Biden executive plans $1 billion in new weapons for Israel despite Rafah threat – World – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

US President Joe Biden’s administration briefed Congress on Tuesday on a $1 billion arms package for Israel, official sources told AFP, a week after threatening to withhold some weapons over concerns about an attack on Rafah.

The administration has informally reported the weapons package to Congress, which will have to approve it, a U.S. official said, while a congressional aide who also requested anonymity said the weapons purchased from U.S. weapons makers amounted to about $1 billion.

The weapons would come from a major $95 billion package recently approved by Congress for defense assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, and the Biden administration has repeatedly said it plans to go ahead and appropriate the funds through purchases from American manufacturers.

But the deal comes a week after Biden warned he may withhold bombs and artillery shells from Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with an attack on Rafah, the southern Gaza city where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge, despite US warnings have searched. half a year of war.

The Biden administration also confirmed last week that it had for the first time halted a shipment of 2,000 pounds of bombs over fears they would be used with devastating risks to civilians in Rafah.

Congress could still block arms sales to Israel, while left-wing members of Biden’s Democratic Party are outraged by the toll on civilians in the Gaza war.

But the overall package passed despite opposition from the left, with the rival Republican Party almost unanimously in favor of arms for Israel.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the new weapons package. It said it could potentially include $700 million in tank munitions and $500 million in tactical vehicles.

While the Biden administration has become increasingly critical of Israel, it has made clear that it will continue to support its ally’s security and last month pointed to US assistance in shooting down Iranian drones launched in retaliation for an attack on a diplomatic facility.

“We will continue to send military assistance, and we will ensure that Israel receives the full amount in the additional aid,” Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters on Monday.

“We have halted 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.

Since the October 7 Hamas attack, which prompted massive Israeli retaliation, the Biden administration has twice invoked a state of emergency to avoid Congress’ regular 30-day review of military transfers.

Critics also point out that the Biden administration has sent a steady stream of weapons that are unknown to the public because they fall below the threshold for notification by Congress.