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Biden Warns Israel Of Halting More Shipments Of American Weapons If It Launches Major Offensive In Rafah


Washington, DC: In a stern warning to Israel, United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday (local time) said that he would halt some shipments of American weapons to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a major invasion in Rafah, CNN reported.

It is the first time that Biden has made such a statement, adding that the weapons sent could also be used in the operation to target the population centres.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden told CNN’s Erin Burnett in an exclusive interview, as he referred to 2,000-pound bombs that Biden paused shipments of last week.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – 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 said.

The seven-month battle between Israel and Hamas has reached a turning point with the president’s declaration that he was willing to tie American weaponry to Israel’s behaviour.

Amid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the president is facing intense pressure to restrict arms shipments, even from members of his party.

Amid the ongoing ground offensive in Rafah, United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin also confirmed on Wednesday that the US is pausing a shipment of “high-payload munitions” to Israel, as the operation has no plan for the residing civilians in the region, reported CNN.

“We’re going to continue to do what’s necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself, but that said, we are currently reviewing some near-term security assistance shipments in the context of unfolding events in Rafah,” Defence Secretary Austin said at a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing.

The remarks of Austin come amid mounting airstrikes, and at a time when the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office has also reaffirmed the continuation of military operations in Rafah to “exert military pressure on Hamas.”

“We’ve been very clear … that Israel shouldn’t launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battlespace,” Austin said, according to CNN.

Austin also stressed that the weapons shipment was not included in the supplemental budget package that Congress just approved, which contained lethal aid for both Israel and Ukraine.

The US has not made “a final determination” about what will happen with the arms shipment, Austin stated.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated their ongoing targeted strikes against Hamas terror targets in eastern Rafah.

The crossing was one of the primary routes for supplies into the besieged Gaza Strip. In mid-December, Israeli authorities announced its reopening in response to rising US pressure and a severe humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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