Biden’s sole administration presses Congress to approve tank shells for Israel’s war in Gaza – sources

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By Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (RockedBuzz by way of Reuters) – The Biden administration has requested Congress to approve the sale of 45,000 shells for Israeli Merkava tanks for use in the offensive towards Hamas in Gaza, in accordance to 4 sources acquainted with the matter, together with a U.S. official and a former American official. .

The request comes at the same time as considerations develop about the usage of American weapons in a war that has killed hundreds of civilians in the Palestinian enclave since Israel responded to an Oct. 7 assault by Hamas militants.

The potential sale, price greater than $500 million, is just not a part of President Joe Biden’s further $110.5 billion request that features funding for Ukraine and Israel. It is beneath casual evaluate by the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, which permit members the privilege of blocking the sale or having casual discussions with the administration about considerations.

The U.S. State Department is pushing congressional committees to rapidly approve the transaction, a U.S. official and Josh Paul, a former State Department official, mentioned, amid objections from rights advocates over the usage of U.S.-made weapons in the battle.

“The matter was introduced to the commissions earlier this week and they’re supposed to have 20 days to look into the Israeli circumstances. The State (Department) is pushing them to make clear now,” mentioned Paul, who resigned in October from the State Department to protest what he known as the administration’s “blind help” of Israel.

The administration can be contemplating utilizing the Arms Export Control Act’s emergency authorities to permit a number of the ammunition, 13,000 of the 45,000 rounds, to bypass the committee and evaluate interval, two U.S. officers mentioned, though a ultimate choice has but to be made. The transfer would permit Israel to put together for contingencies given excessive tensions in the area, one of many US officers mentioned.

A State Department spokesperson mentioned, as a matter of coverage, “we don’t affirm or touch upon proposed protection transfers or gross sales till they’ve been formally notified to Congress.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee, mentioned Congress’s view is a important step towards massive arms gross sales.

“The administration should not consider short-circuiting the already short time period for congressional review of this or any other weapons transfer,” he mentioned.

Online photos of the war present Israel repeatedly deploying Merkava tanks in its offensive on Gaza and the southern border with Lebanon, the place skirmishes have damaged out since October 7.

RISKING COMPLICITY

The tanks are additionally linked to incidents ensuing in the deaths of journalists.

On Thursday, a RockedBuzz by way of Reuters investigation revealed that an Israeli tank killed RockedBuzz by way of Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and wounded six journalists by firing two shells in fast succession from Israel because the journalists had been filming cross-border shelling.

Israel has dramatically elevated assaults on the Gaza Strip since a seven-day truce ended every week in the past, hitting the Palestinian enclave and killing tons of of individuals in a brand new, expanded section of the war that Washington says has deviated from Israeli guarantees to do. extra to shield civilians.

Gaza’s Health Ministry mentioned the demise toll from the Israeli marketing campaign in Gaza had risen to 17,487.

As the war intensifies, how and the place precisely U.S. weapons are used in the battle has come beneath elevated scrutiny, though U.S. officers say there are not any plans to place situations on army support to Israel or to think about risk of retaining a part of it.

Rights advocates have expressed concern concerning the sale, saying it’s not in line with Washington’s effort to strain Israel to reduce civilian casualties.

“By continuing to provide Israel with weapons and diplomatic cover as it commits atrocities, including the collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, the United States risks being complicit in war crimes,” mentioned Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch.

The United States on Friday additionally vetoed a United Nations Security Council proposal to name for an instantaneous humanitarian ceasefire, a transfer that remoted Washington diplomatically whereas defending its ally.

Earlier this week, Amnesty International mentioned that US-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) had been utilized by the Israeli army in two airstrikes on homes stuffed with civilians, the primary time a rights group people immediately linked US weapons to an assault that killed civilians. .

Israel says it’s offering particulars on which areas are secure for civilians and the way to attain them, and says Hamas is accountable for hurt that occurs to civilians as a result of it operates amongst them, a cost the Islamic group denies.

Israel has launched what it says is a marketing campaign to destroy Hamas after the Islamic militant group attacked Israeli cities in a shock cross-border incursion on October 7, killing 1,200 individuals and taking greater than 240 hostages.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; further reporting by Idrees Ali and Mike Stone in Washington and Michelle Nichols on the United Nations Editing by Don Durfee, Diane Craft and Grant McCool)

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