Workers and supporters of a cease-fire in Gaza

Workers and supporters of a cease-fire in Gaza demonstrate in Washington, D.C., on May 1, 2024.

(Photo: Allison Bailey/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images)

'Overdue But Welcome': Biden Reportedly Holds Back Bombs for Israel

"The White House must leave no stone unturned in its effort to stop the Israeli government's offensive on Rafah—the hundreds of thousands displaced there do not have more time," said the head of Win Without War.

Anti-war voices on Tuesday welcomed Politico's reporting that U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is delaying "shipments of two types of Boeing-made precision bombs to send a political message to Israel," which on Monday launched a long-awaited invasion of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

"The U.S. has yet to sign off on a pending sale of Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munitions—both the munitions and kits that convert them to smart weapons—and Small Diameter Bombs," according to Politico, which cited unnamed congressional and industry sources. "While the Biden administration has not formally denied the potential sale, it is essentially taking action through inaction—holding off on approvals and other aspects of the weapons transfer process."

The piece followed Axiosreporting Sunday that Israeli officials said the administration "last week put a hold on a shipment of U.S.-made ammunition" and The Wall Street Journal's Monday revelation that it "has held up delivery of Joint Direct Attack Munitions."

"If President Biden is taking the overdue but necessary step... he cannot leave his intentions open to miscommunication or spin."

The White House has neither confirmed nor denied Politico's report, which came as Biden again conflated campus protests against Israel's war on Gaza with antisemitism. Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the U.S.-backed offensive in October, Biden has faced mounting pressure to cut off arms to the country and use his influence to end the bloodshed.

"Reports that the Biden administration is delaying the sale of at least two types of bombs to the Israeli government, in reaction to its disastrous conduct of the war in Gaza, are highly welcome. That conduct is again on international display in Rafah this week, where the Israeli military has begun an invasion that, as we at Win Without War have previously warned, could lead to further horrific war crimes," the group's executive director, Sara Haghdoosti, said in a statement Tuesday.

"Now that this news has leaked, senior administration officials must publicly confirm this policy shift," she said. "If President Biden is taking the overdue but necessary step to condition weapons sales in line with U.S. law and policy and to force changes in Israeli government strategy, he cannot leave his intentions open to miscommunication or spin from those, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, who are continuing this conflict for their own political benefit. The White House must leave no stone unturned in its effort to stop the Israeli government's offensive on Rafah—the hundreds of thousands displaced there do not have more time."

Over a million Palestinians from across Gaza have crowded into Rafah since October, as Israeli forces have killed at least 34,789 people, wounded another 78,204, and destroyed civilian infrastructure in the strip, which has been under Hamas control for nearly two decades. The International Court of Justice has said Israel is "plausibly" committing genocide in the besieged enclave.

While multiple congressional Republicans condemned the Biden administration's supposed move to delay the delivery of the bombs to Israel, critics of the Israeli assault joined Haghdoosti in welcoming the development—which comes on the heels of Congress and the president approving billions more in military aid for Israel.

"Glad to see it. I wish they would've started sending this message thousands of lives ago, as so many urged," Matt Duss, executive vice president at the Center for International Policy, said on social media.

Brian Finucane, senior adviser to the Crisis Group's U.S. program, agreed the move is "good if true" and "an easy step the Biden administration should have taken months ago."

Refugees International president Jeremy Konyndyk, called it an "overdue but welcome development" that "hopefully... signals a pivot to beginning to impose more overt conditionality on U.S. arms transfers."

Politico separately reported Tuesday that according to congressional sources, "the Biden administration's report on whether Israel has violated U.S. and international humanitarian law during the war in Gaza has been delayed indefinitely."

The Israeli War Cabinet—made up of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Benny Gantz, former chief of the general staff for the Israel Defense Forces—opted to attack Rafah on Monday despite Hamas agreeing to a cease-fire and hostage release deal. Biden previously said that Israel invading the crowded city was a "red line" and is now facing calls to stand by that position.

"The Israeli government has once again proven that it will respect no red lines and that it will go to any lengths to slaughter Palestinians and push them off their land," said Council on American-Islamic Relations national executive director Nihad Awad.

"The Biden administration can no longer enable these genocidal war crimes or Benjamin Netanyahu's brazen flouting of the United States," Awad added. "We urge the Biden administration to condemn the Israeli government's latest crimes, suspend military funding, and use American leverage to secure an immediate end to the genocide."

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