Biden Says US Will Withhold Weapons From Israel If It Invades Rafah


President Joe Biden on May 8 publicly warned Israel for the first time that the United States (US) would stop supplying it weapons if Israeli forces make a major invasion of Rafah, a refugee-packed city in southern Gaza.

Biden acknowledged US weapons have been used by Israel to kill civilians in Gaza, where Israel has mounted a seven-month-old offensive aimed at annihilating Hamas. Israel's campaign has so far killed 34,789 Palestinians, mostly civilians, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

Israel's UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, earlier this week called Washington's decision to delay shipments "very disappointing" although he did not believe the US would stop supplying arms to Israel.

The United States is by far the biggest supplier of weapons to Israel, and it accelerated deliveries after the October 7 Hamas-led attacks. In 2016, the US and Israeli governments signed a third 10-year Memorandum of Understanding that provides $38 billion in military aid over the 10 years. Last month, congress approved $26 billion in additional funding for Israel.

Biden said the U.S. would continue to provide defensive weapons to Israel, including for its Iron Dome air defense system.

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