Joe Biden announces a halt to deliveries of offensive weapons to Israel in the event of military intervention in Rafah

Joe Biden announces a halt to deliveries of offensive weapons to Israel in the event of military intervention in Rafah
Joe Biden announces a halt to deliveries of offensive weapons to Israel in the event of military intervention in Rafah

The United States took an unprecedented step on Wednesday, May 8, in its close but complex relationship with Israel. The Biden administration confirmed the suspension, last week, of an arms delivery to its ally, engaged for seven months in a deadly war in the Gaza Strip. These included 1,800 2,000-pound (907 kg) bombs and 1,700 500-pound (226 kg) bombs. Other deliveries planned in the near future should be reviewed, depending on events in Rafah.

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This is a clear warning, staged by leaks in the press, addressed to Benjamin Netanyahu. “I said it clearly to Bibi and the war cabinet: they will not have our support if they go to the population centers”warned Joe Biden, in an interview with CNN broadcast in the evening.

The American president stressed that for the moment, the Israelis had only taken the Rafah border crossing, thus causing ” problems “ with Egypt, Washington’s essential interlocutor in this crisis. But in the event of a large-scale operation, “we will not supply weapons and artillery shells”, said Joe Biden. This is a turning point, but not a strategic break, in the American administration’s total support for Israel since October 7, 2023.

At the beginning of March, the Washington Post had revealed that nearly a hundred arms deliveries had already been organized in six months, a veritable airlift. On April 24, Joe Biden signed a law passed in Congress which granted 15 billion dollars (14 billion euros) in additional aid to Israel and the Palestinians. Of this sum, 5 billion was intended for the Jewish state’s three anti-missile defense systems.

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Exasperation, apprehension, questioning

There is no question of calling this package into question. It is seen as crucial, in light of Iran’s recent attack against Israel, by drones and missiles. On the other hand, the United States questions the delivery of massive bombs used indiscriminately by Israel. Very late, seven months after the start of the conflict, the administration finally used this lever of pressure, even though we do not know the state of Israeli stocks.

This decision reflects both exasperation caused by Benjamin Netanyahu, apprehension about the consequences of a massive operation in Rafah and finally a legal question about American responsibility. “Civilians were killed in Gaza because of these bombs [américaines] and other means used to attack populated areas”recognized Joe Biden on CNN.

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