US State Department defends massive arms transfer to Israel

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller faced questions regarding the recent approval of a significant arms transfer to Israel amidst escalating tensions in Gaza and opposition to potential military actions.

ANI | Updated: 02-04-2024 08:02 IST | Created: 02-04-2024 08:02 IST
US State Department defends massive arms transfer to Israel
US President Joe Biden with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel on Oct 18, 2023 (Picture credit/ Reuters). Image Credit: ANI
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The US State Department downplayed the authorisation of weapon requests to Israel, saying that many of the requests were made and approved by Congress years ago, The Times of Israel reported. US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller faced questions regarding the recent approval of a significant arms transfer to Israel amidst escalating tensions in Gaza and opposition to potential military actions.

Miller emphasised that many of these weapons requests have been previously approved by Congress and reaffirmed the long-standing commitment of USD 3 billion annually to Israel's security. He underscored the threats posed by Hezbollah, saying, "We're going to continue to support Israel's ability to defend itself against those sworn enemies."

Additionally, Miller noted that Israel's utilisation of the approved weaponry is based on its security needs and highlights the necessity to replenish defence materials for its long-term security. "Israel is in an armed conflict and is expending a great deal of defence material and some of that needs to be replenished for Israel's long-term security," Miller said, highlighting the obligation of aid recipients to adhere to international humanitarian law when using US-provided weapons, The Times of Israel reported.

Amid escalating tensions and concerns over potential military actions in southern Gaza, the Biden administration on March 31 sanctioned the transfer of billions of dollars of bombs and fighter jets to Israel, The Washington Post reported. Despite apprehensions about the impact on Palestinian civilians, Washington has proceeded with the arms packages, signalling its unwavering support for Israel's defence strategies, the report added.

The recent authorizations include a substantial arsenal of munitions, comprising over 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, as confirmed by Pentagon and State Department officials familiar with the matter. The decision to greenlight such significant weaponry raises eyebrows, particularly given the lethal history of the 2,000-pound bombs in previous Israeli military campaigns in Gaza, which have resulted in mass casualties, as reported by The Washington Post. While the Biden administration has expressed concerns about the potential ramifications of an Israeli offensive in southern Gaza, it has refrained from conditioning aid or imposing restrictions on arms transfers. A White House official reiterated the administration's stance, affirming its continued support for Israel's right to self-defence and emphasising that conditioning aid has not been part of its policy.

However, some Democratic voices, including allies of President Biden, argue for a more nuanced approach, insisting on Israeli commitments to minimise civilian casualties and facilitate humanitarian aid into Gaza. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland urged the administration to leverage its influence effectively, demanding assurances from Israel before approving further arms transfers to Gaza. The impasse highlights the delicate balance in US-Israel relations, with disagreements emerging over the conduct of the conflict. While the Biden administration seeks to engage with Israeli authorities to mitigate the bloodshed, tensions have flared over the refusal to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire, which Israel perceives as undermining its position.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant's recent visit to Washington underscored Israel's urgent requests for expedited weaponry, with Gen Charles Q Brown Jr, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledging Israel's persistent demands for critical military supplies. However, the US has exercised discretion in fulfilling these requests, citing capacity limits and strategic considerations. The decision to proceed with arms transfers has drawn criticism from some quarters, with concerns raised about the moral implications and potential complicity in Israel's military actions. Critics argue that the indiscriminate use of powerful munitions, such as the MK84 bombs, poses significant risks to civilian populations and may constitute violations of international law, according to The Washington Post.

The Biden administration's approach has also sparked internal debate, with advocates defending the need to maintain robust support for Israel's security while acknowledging the humanitarian imperative of minimising civilian harm. Efforts to engage with Israeli officials behind the scenes have yielded mixed results, with delays in planned military operations in Gaza attributed partly to ongoing discussions. Despite the diplomatic tensions, the Biden administration remains committed to facilitating humanitarian assistance to alleviate the dire conditions in Gaza. However, logistical challenges and Israeli restrictions on aid deliveries have hindered efforts to address the humanitarian crisis effectively.

In navigating the complexities of the conflict, the Biden administration faces mounting pressure to reconcile its support for Israel's security with its humanitarian obligations and concerns about civilian welfare. The delicate balancing act underscores the broader challenges of US foreign policy in the Middle East, where geopolitical interests intersect with moral imperatives. As the situation in Gaza remains volatile, the Biden administration confronts a daunting task in reconciling competing priorities and upholding its commitments to both Israel's security and the well-being of Palestinian civilians, The Washington Post reported. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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