US stalls sale of heavy bombs to Israel: 'They might use it in Rafah'

The shipment consisted of 907 kg and 226 kg bombs 

TOPSHOT-ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-CONFLICT Israeli soldiers dismantling a tunnel in the area of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip | AFP

The US has decided to hold up the shipment of heavy bombs to Israel as Washington fears the IDF might use them for ground operation in Rafah. 

The shipment consisted of 907 kg and 226 kg bombs and was supposed to be transferred last week. 

Washington has been supplying weapons, including bombs, to Israel on a near-constant basis since October 7 and this is the first time that it decided to hold up the shipment. The US had expressed its concern about Israel's plan to move ahead with the invasion of Rafah, where one million displaced Palestinians have been sheltering since the war broke out. 

Despite global outrage against the Rafah invasion, Israel decided to move ahead with the plan with the IDF seizing the nearby Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt early Tuesday, 

According to a White House administration official, the US position has been that Israel should not launch a major ground operation in Rafah, where more than a million people are sheltering with nowhere else to go.

He added that the administration has been engaging in a dialogue with Israel on how they will meet the humanitarian needs of civilians in Rafah but these discussions "have not fully addressed our concerns."

"As Israeli leaders seemed to approach a decision point on such an operation, we began to carefully review proposed transfers of particular weapons to Israel that might be used in Rafah. This began in April," BBC quoted the official.

He added that the US paused one one shipment of weapons last week as a result of the review. 

"It consists of 1,800 2,000lb bombs and 1,700 500lb bombs. We are especially focused on the end-use of the 2,000-lb bombs and the impact they could have in dense urban settings as we have seen in other parts of Gaza. We have not made a final determination on how to proceed with this shipment."

However, the Israeli military appeared on Wednesday to play down an arms shipment hold-up, stating that the allies resolve any disagreements "behind closed doors". 

Chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari described coordination between Israel and the United States as reaching "a scope without precedent, I think, in history". 

Meanwhile, the Israeli forces on Tuesday cut off a vital route for aid. Many residents complained of tanks moving in to take control of the crossing Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah said in separate statements that gunfights continued in the central Gaza.


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp