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White House explains why it suspended shipment of bombs to Israel

The White House has disclosed why the US halted the shipment of bombs to Israel last week.

Last week reports emerged that the US President Joe Biden’s administration asked for the pause of a bomb shipment to Israel, which consisted of 1,800 2,000lb (907kg) bombs and 1,700 500lb bombs despite the US’ proclaimed unwavering support to Israel.

But now, a White House official has come out to say that the pause was based on the unresolved issues of the humanitarian needs of civilians in Rafah, southern Gaza.

The official said Israel has not “fully addressed” the US concerns on the plight of the people of Rafah, according to BBC.

On Monday Israel sent tanks to Rafah to begin a major ground operation and seized some key crossing areas even as Hamas accepts ceasefire deals brokered in Egypt.

Rafah has been a key entry point for aid and the only exit for people able to flee since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas last October.

“The US position has been that Israel should not launch a major ground operation in Rafah, where more than a million people are sheltering with nowhere else to go,” the White House administration official said according to the BBC.

“We have been engaging in a dialogue with Israel in our Strategic Consultative Group format on how they will meet the humanitarian needs of civilians in Rafah, and how to operate differently against Hamas there than they have elsewhere in Gaza.

“Those discussions are ongoing and have not fully addressed our concerns. As Israeli leaders seemed to approach a decision point on such an operation, we began to carefully review proposed transfers of particular weapons to Israel that might be used in Rafah. This began in April.

“As a result of that review, we have paused one shipment of weapons last week. It consists of 1,800 2,000lb bombs and 1,700 500lb bombs. We are especially focused on the end-use of the 2,000-lb bombs and the impact they could have in dense urban settings as we have seen in other parts of Gaza. We have not made a final determination on how to proceed with this shipment.”

The unnamed official added, “For certain other cases at the State Department, including JDAM [Joint Direct Attack Munition] kits, we are continuing the review. None of these cases involve imminent transfers – they are about future transfers”.

The official said that the shipments were unrelated to last month’s landmark $17 billion military aid package, but had been drawn from “previously appropriated funds.”

Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to the group’s cross-border attack on southern Israel on 7 October, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 others were taken hostage.

More than 34,780 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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