The White House is discussing halting or delaying shipments of offensive weapons to Israel in an effort to force the Jewish state to scale back its ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip, NBC News reported Sunday.
According to the report, Israel has asked the US to send additional aid, including powerful aerial bombs and air defense systems. NBC News quoted three current and one former U.S. official as saying that the U.S. is “considering slowing or pausing deliveries in the hope that it will encourage the Israelis to take action, such as opening humanitarian corridors to provide more aid to Palestinian civilians.”
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The delivery of equipment that converts 155 mm artillery shells and ‘dumb bombs’ into precision-guided munitions is reportedly under review by the Pentagon. At the same time, officials were quoted as saying that “no decision has been made” on the matter and that the US “will continue to provide other conversion kits that make Israeli munitions more accurate.”
The officials added that the White House “is unlikely to slow the deployment of air defense” but “could possibly halt or delay” offensive weapons.
The US has urged Israel to exercise restraint, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this month that the civilian death toll in Gaza was “too high”. In December, President Joe Biden warned that Israel could lose foreign support due to “indiscriminate bombing” of the Palestinian territory.
According to local Hamas-led officials, more than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since fighting began in October. Israel has rejected accusations of “genocide”, claiming that Hamas uses civilians as human shields.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized that the Jewish state’s goal in Gaza is to “eliminate” the Palestinian armed group Hamas. In a speech this month, Netanyahu vowed that the government would not “surrender” to the militants.
The Israel Defense Forces launched its operation in Gaza on October 7 in response to a deadly Hamas attack that killed nearly 1,200 people. More than 200 Israelis were taken prisoner by Hamas. Dozens of hostages were later released as part of a series of prisoner exchanges in November.