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Biden: U.S. Won't Send Offensive Weapons if Israel Invades Rafah

Photo : Reuters

Israel is pushing to exclude Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, from a potential ceasefire agreement with Hamas, as disclosed by four current and one former U.S. officials familiar with the negotiations.

In a recent interview, President Joe Biden stated that the United States would withhold specific weapons and artillery shells from Israel should its military embark on an invasion of Rafah. Biden emphasized that if Israel undertakes a ground offensive in Rafah, the administration would refrain from supplying the types of weapons historically used in such scenarios. This marks a notable departure from past U.S. policies regarding Israel's military actions.

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Biden clarified that while the U.S. would continue to ensure Israel's security through measures like providing support for the Iron Dome missile defense system, it would not furnish weaponry typically employed in operations targeting cities like Rafah. The decision reflects concerns over civilian casualties and the humanitarian impact of military operations in densely populated areas.

This stance by the Biden administration follows its recent decision to halt a planned shipment of offensive weapons to Israel, including 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, as reported by NBC News. The move drew criticism from Israeli officials, with Ambassador Gilad Erdan expressing disappointment and frustration over the decision. Erdan suggested that domestic political pressures might have influenced Biden's move.

In response to the U.S. pause, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir took a hardline stance, labeling President Biden as "Hamas Biden." This remark sparked controversy and drew condemnation from Israeli opposition figures.

Overall, the Biden administration's decision signals a shift in U.S. policy towards Israel, emphasizing concerns about civilian casualties and advocating for a more restrained approach to military operations in Gaza.

May 9, 2024 5:28 p.m. 4141

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