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White House Proposes $1 Billion Arms Package for Israel Amid Gaza Conflict 

White House sought approval for $1bn arms package, including tank rounds, mortars, and armored vehicles to Israel, amid Gaza conflict.

The White House has submitted a proposal to Congress seeking approval for the shipment of more than $1 billion in weapons to Israel, officials disclosed on Wednesday. 

The package, reportedly including tank rounds, mortars, and armored tactical vehicles, marks a significant development amid escalating tensions in the Gaza conflict.

The plan, confirmed by a congressional aide to CBS, is subject to approval by lawmakers. 

This announcement follows President Joe Biden’s recent declaration that he would suspend weapons deliveries to Israel if a major invasion of the Gaza city of Rafah were launched. 

However, reports indicate that Israeli tanks have advanced further into residential areas of south-eastern Rafah, heightening concerns over the humanitarian impact of the conflict.

President Biden’s decision to delay the shipment of 2,000lb (900kg) bombs to Israel underscores the administration’s cautious approach amid mounting civilian casualties in Gaza. “Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs,” Mr. Biden stated.

The proposed arms package, the first since the Biden administration paused arms transfers to Israel, includes $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds.

Last Friday, a US State Department report raised concerns that some American-made weapons provided to Israel may have been used in violation of international law. 

While the report criticised certain Israeli operations in Gaza, it refrained from definitively stating that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) campaign had breached international law, citing credible assurances from Israel regarding the legal use of US weapons.

Against the backdrop of escalating violence, Congress recently passed a bill allocating $95 billion in aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. 

However, the issue of weapons transfers to Israel has become politically sensitive for President Biden, particularly ahead of the 2024 White House election.

In response to growing scrutiny, Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at preventing further pauses in weapons shipments to Israel. 

The proposed measure, scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives, mandates the state and defense departments to ensure the “prompt delivery” of military equipment. 

However, the White House has pledged to veto the bill, signaling potential congressional gridlock on the issue.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted following the latter’s cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7th. 

Since then, the violence has claimed the lives of approximately 1,200 people, with over 35,170 casualties reported in Gaza, including 82 fatalities in the past 24 hours, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Chioma Kalu

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