Biden Claims the U.S. Won’t Provide Israel with Weapons for Rafah Attack

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TL/DR –

President Biden has warned Israel that the US will withhold certain weapons if it launches an assault in southern Gaza, acknowledging that American bombs have been used in the killing of Palestinian civilians. Biden has committed to blocking the delivery of weapons that could be fired into densely populated areas, and has already halted the shipment of 3,500 bombs due to this concern. This stance has created a rift between the US and Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating that Israel will move forward with eradicating Hamas even if it has to do so alone.


President Biden’s Warning About Weapon Supply to Israel

President Biden has stated that the U.S. will withhold certain weapons if Israel initiates a major assault in southern Gaza. He made these remarks acknowledging that American bombs have been used to kill Palestinian civilians. Biden reassured that the U.S. would continue to guarantee Israel’s security, including support for the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Biden’s strong stance is set against the backdrop of the Gaza war and he emphasized that the U.S. will not supply weapons that can be used in densely populated areas of Rafah, which houses over a million Palestinians. Israel maintains that an operation in Rafah is necessary to eradicate Hamas, responsible for a significant terrorist attack on Israel on October 7.

Biden explained his policy during an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, saying, “If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, that deal with that problem.”

Biden’s Resistance to Weapon Supply

Biden’s remarks reflect a growing rift between the U.S. and its closest Middle East ally over the Gaza war, which has resulted in over 34,000 fatalities and a humanitarian crisis. The U.S., currently the largest supplier of weapons to Israel, is set to deliver a report to Congress assessing Israel’s claims of using American weapons in compliance with U.S. and international law.

Just last week, Biden halted a shipment of 3,500 bombs intended for Israel due to concerns they might be used in an operation on Rafah. This move marks the first use of U.S. arms as a bargaining chip since the October 7 attack.

Israel’s Response and Public Opinion

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has disregarded U.S. warnings, asserting that Israel will proceed with its anti-Hamas operation even without international support. This week, the Israeli cabinet sanctioned a Rafah assault, prompting over 100,000 civilians to evacuate ahead of “targeted strikes” against Hamas.

Despite Biden expressing his disapproval of indiscriminate bombing, U.S. officials noted that Israel describes its operation in Rafah as “limited”. Biden stated that he does not categorize Israel’s operations as full-scale invasions since they have not hit “population centers.”

President Biden’s Engagement with Public Sentiment

Further, Biden voiced his concerns about how Israel’s operations are affecting key allies, such as Egypt, who play a pivotal role in ceasefire discussions and delivering humanitarian aid. He emphasized to Netanyahu and his team that they would lose support if they proceed with an offensive in densely populated areas.

When asked about recent college campus protests where he was dubbed “Genocide Joe,” Biden acknowledged hearing the messages of young Americans, stating, “Absolutely, I hear the message.”

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