US will stop some arms sales to Israel if Rafah offensive continues, Biden says

US will stop some arms sales to Israel if Rafah offensive continues, Biden says

Israel launched a “limited” military operation on Rafah on Tuesday, seizing the crucial border crossing with Egypt.


US President Joe Biden has warned Israel that Washington will stop supplying some weapons if it continues its ground offensive in long-threatened Rafah.

It is the strongest warning ever issued by Israel’s most staunch ally, amid growing concerns for displaced Palestinian civilians living in the southern Gaza city.

But Biden softened his warning with some reassuring words, saying the United States would “continue to guarantee Israel’s security.”

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that Washington had already suspended a shipment containing thousands of bombs.

“They have not yet launched a large-scale military operation,” he said. “We continue to be concerned about a possible operation in Rafah. We have made that very clear. We have made that clear to the Israeli government privately and, of course, to everyone from the president on down , made it clear publicly.”

Israel’s plans to move into Rafah to eliminate Hamas battalions it says are based there have been the subject of intense international criticism.

More than 1.4 million Palestinians, more than half of Gaza’s population, have sought refuge in Rafah, settling there on the advice of the Israeli army which declared it a security zone.

The majority live in makeshift tent camps with limited access to food, water and healthcare.

But officials have indicated that future military aid deliveries could be suspended if Israel continues its offensive.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “But that said, we are currently looking at some short-term security assistance shipments in the context of the events unfolding in Rafah.”

Israel launched a “limited” military operation in Rafah on Tuesday, seizing the crucial border crossing with Egypt in a bid to prevent the supply of arms and funds passing through there to Hamas.

The day before, the Israeli army ordered around 100,000 Palestinians to evacuate the east of the city to a “humanitarian zone” in the coastal municipality of Al-Mawasi.

“We evacuated from here because of the leaflets the Israeli army threw at us,” said internally displaced person Muhammad Rayhan. “We know that there is no evacuation of schools in Rafah, only of the crossing area, but they insisted that we evacuate this area completely.”

The United Nations says the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains “extremely fluid” and agency staff continue to face a range of challenges, including active military operations.

“For the moment, no goods have entered for our use in humanitarian operations, whether through the Karem Shalom or Rafah crossing to the Gaza Strip,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson. of the secretary general.

But the Israeli military said the Kerem Shalom crossing reopened to aid vehicles on Wednesday after being closed over the weekend following a Hamas rocket attack.