Meeting in Irun, Basque Country, in solidarity with Rafah, Palestine. Iñaki Lopez de Luzuriaga, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com

The Biden administration has notified Congress that it intends to move forward with a weapons package for Israel worth over $1 billion as Israeli tanks are pushing further into the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

The arms package, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, includes $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds.

The arms could take years to deliver, but the deal demonstrates the US’s long-term commitment to arming Israel despite President Biden’s warning that he could stop supplying certain types of weapons if Israel launches a major attack on “population centers” in Rafah. It also shows Israel that any tank munitions it uses in Rafah will be replenished. Reuters reported on Tuesday that Israeli tanks had entered residential districts in eastern Rafah.

While the US says it put a hold on one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Monday that the US was still committed to Israel and would make sure it received all of the $17 billion in new military aid that was recently approved by Congres. “We are continuing to send military assistance, and we will ensure that Israel receives the full amount provided in the supplemental. We have paused a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs because we do not believe they should be dropped in densely populated cities. We are talking to the Israeli government about this,” he said.

Initial reports about the delayed bomb shipment said a pause was also put on a shipment of 500-pound bombs, but US officials are now only mentioning the 2,000-pound bombs. When asked to clarify if there was a hold on both, the State Department pointed Antiwar.com to the above statement from Sullivan.

Sullivan also made clear that Israel’s push into Rafah still hasn’t crossed Biden’s red line, if one exists at all. “We still believe it would be a mistake to launch a major military operation into the heart of Rafah that would put huge numbers of civilians at risk without a clear strategic gain. The president was clear he would not supply certain offensive weapons for such an operation, were it to occur. It has not yet occurred,” he said.

Before Israel launched its US-approved operation to capture the Rafah border crossing last week, it was estimated that the city was packed with about 1.4 million civilians. The UN said on Tuesday that about 450,000 Palestinians have been driven out of the city so far and are warning that there’s nowhere safe for them to go. The Israeli operation has also cut off aid deliveries through the vital Rafah border crossing, adding to the starvation blockade on the Strip.

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Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.

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