US plans to send $1bn arms shipment to Israel

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US plans to send $1bn arms shipment to Israel

The White House has told Congress it wants to send more than $1bn (£800m) in new weapons to Israel.

This comes despite the US being opposed to a full-scale invasion by the Israeli military on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

It said last week it had paused a shipment of bombs to Israel over concerns civilians would be killed if used in densely populated areas.

The new package, confirmed by US media, must still be approved by lawmakers.

It would include $700m in tank ammunition, $500m in tactical vehicles and $60m in mortar rounds, according to the Associated Press news agency.

On Tuesday, Israeli tanks advanced deeper into residential areas in the south-east of the Gazan city.

Last month, Congress passed a bill providing $95bn in aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

A US state department report last week found that some American-made weapons provided to Israel may have been used in breach of international law.

While the report was a clear rebuke of some Israeli operations in Gaza, it stopped short of definitively saying that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) campaign had breached international law.

It added that assurances it had received from Israel about adhering to the legal use of US weapons were “credible and reliable”.

The package being sent to Congress is the first since Mr Biden’s administration paused arms transfers to Israel last week.

He said he had delayed the shipment of 2,000lb (900kg) bombs to Israel because of how they might be used in such a ground operation.

Asked by CNN about the delay, Mr Biden said: “Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs.”

Weapons transfers to Israel have become a political liability for Mr Biden ahead of this November’s 2024 White House election.

News of the latest arms package emerged soon after voting ended in a presidential primary election in Maryland, where activists had urged voters to register a protest ballot against what they see as Mr Biden’s favouritism towards Israel over the Gaza war.

Republican lawmakers in Congress have introduced legislation intended to prevent any further pauses in weapons shipments to the US ally.

The House of Representatives this week will vote on a measure that requires the state department and defence department to ensure the “prompt delivery” of military equipment.

The White House has vowed to veto the bill, if it manages to pass the Senate, which is unlikely.

Israel launched a military campaign to destroy Hamas in response to the group’s cross-border attack on southern Israel on 7 October, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 252 others were taken hostage.

More than 35,170 people have been killed in Gaza since then, including 82 in the past 24 hours, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.