US resumes shipment of 500-pound bombs to Israel

US resumes shipment of 500-pound bombs to Israel

Shafaq News/ The United States is set to resume the shipment of 500-pound bombs to Israel, a process that had been previously halted by the Biden administration.

According to US officials, the bombs are currently "in the process of being shipped" and are expected to reach Israel in the coming weeks.

A senior administration official informed The Wall Street Journal that Israel has already dispatched a vessel to Charleston, South Carolina, to collect the shipment prior to the final decision being made. However, a Congressional official noted that lawmakers were not formally notified of the decision to ship the 500-pound bombs, as the shipment is part of a previously notified deal and does not require individual shipment disclosures.

In May, the US had halted a shipment that included both 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs. President Joe Biden's decision to suspend the delivery of certain bomb types was seen as an escalation of tensions between his administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel's handling of the conflict in Gaza.

The US suspension came in response to Israel's plans to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah without a credible plan to protect civilians, where over one million people had sought refuge from the ongoing conflict. President Biden labeled the Rafah operation a "red line", though it did not lead to a complete halt in US arms supplies to Israel.

A US official clarified that the primary concern was the potential use of 2,000-pound bombs in Rafah and other areas in Gaza. "Our main concern has been and continues to be the potential use of 2,000-pound bombs in densely populated areas," the official stated. "As the concern does not extend to the 500-pound bombs, their shipment proceeds as part of the routine process."

Despite the resumed shipment of 500-pound bombs, the delivery of the heavier 2,000-pound bombs remains on hold. Israeli officials have argued that these heavier bombs are necessary for destroying tunnels, prompting US concerns about civilian casualties in densely populated areas.

In the weeks following the suspension, US officials worked on ways to separate the shipment of 500-pound bombs from the heavier ordnance, a process that took several weeks. The original shipment included 1,800 heavy bombs and 1,700 bombs weighing 500 pounds.

A National Security Council spokesperson stated, "Aside from the single shipment containing 2,000-pound bombs that was temporarily paused and remain suspended, weapon shipments continue to move on schedule."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin indicated at the time that shipments would resume once Israel provided a plan to protect the more than one million civilians who had fled to Rafah.

Following the Gaza war, the US has increased arms shipments to its closest Middle Eastern ally, including deliveries of 2,000-pound bombs.

Military experts suggest these heavier bombs are more suitable for targeting military adversaries in open areas rather than in Gaza's densely populated cities.

It is noteworthy that the Israeli war in Gaza has led to the death of 38,867 Palestinians, predominantly women and children, and injured about 88,000 others, with many more feared buried under rubble as much of the Strip has been destroyed and most of its 2.3 million residents displaced

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