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US recently authorized more bombs for Israel


The Biden administration recently authorized the transfer of over 1,000 500-pound bombs and over 1,000 small-diameter bombs to Israel, according to three people familiar with the matter, adding to its arsenal despite US concerns over the country’s conduct in the war in Gaza.


The transfer authorization of the MK82 bombs and small-diameter bombs, more than 2,000 munitions in total, occurred on Monday, according to two of the people familiar. It was authorized before an Israeli strike on a humanitarian convoy in Gaza that evening that killed seven employees of the aid organization World Central Kitchen, a State Department spokesperson said.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged on Tuesday that the aid workers had been “unintentionally” targeted.


News of the approval comes as Israel is facing fresh international condemnation over the strike and amid growing calls by some Democratic lawmakers and critics of Biden’s support for Israel to begin restricting or conditioning military aid to the country.


While the approval came before the WCK strike, it came after more than 190 aid workers in Gaza and the West Bank had already been killed in the nearly 6-month war, CNN has reported.


Josh Paul, who worked in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs for over a decade before resigning in October over the US’ ongoing arms transfers to Israel, told CNN that the “State Department has the ability to suspend any approval even after the fact, which, given the circumstances, you’d think they’d at least consider.”


Last week, the US authorized the transfer of similar weaponry, including nearly 2,000 2,000-pound bombs known as the MK84, the people familiar with the matter said. CNN has previously linked the MK84 bombs to mass casualty events in Gaza, including Israeli strikes on refugee camps there last year.


None of these transfers had to be newly notified to or approved by Congress, since they were already greenlit by lawmakers in 2012 and 2015, according to arms sales notifications by the Pentagon available on the Federal Register. The contracts are just now being fulfilled because the munitions had to be produced, which can take several years.


The Biden administration has indicated that it does not plan to restrict or condition military aid to Israel, despite US officials, including President Joe Biden, saying publicly that Israel has not done enough to protect civilians throughout the course of the six-month war. Biden said earlier this week that he was “outraged” over the strike that killed the aid workers and is set to speak with Netanyahu on Thursday.


More than 32,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October, according to the enclave’s ministry of health. Israel declared war on Hamas in response to the militant group’s terror attack on October 7 that killed over 1,200 Israelis.


“We have a longstanding commitment to Israel’s security and to helping ensure its ability to defend itself,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Paris on Tuesday when asked about the arms transfers. He added that the weapons and systems that Israel has sought from the US in some cases date back “many years,” and that they “go to self defense, deterrence,” and replenishment of Israel’s stocks.


The US is also engaging in new arms sales with the Israelis, however, including an $18 billion sale of F-15 fighter jets that the administration is preparing to approve, CNN reported on Monday.


 

CNN, 2024

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