Israel Says Pause in U.S. Weapons Shipment Could Thwart Negotiations for Hostages, Ceasefire

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed pause was result of concerns over ‘major combat' in Rafah

Israel Says Pause in U.S. Weapons Shipment Could Thwart Negotiations for Hostages, Ceasefire

Senior Israeli officials claim the Biden administration’s current pause in weapons shipments has caused “deep frustration” and could thwart negotiations for hostages and a ceasefire.

Monday marked the first time since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that the U.S. has halted shipment of weapons for the Israeli military, reports Axios.

The outlet, which broke the story based on comments from two Israeli officials, further reported that “the incident raised serious concerns inside the Israeli government and sent officials scrambling to understand why the shipment was held.”

At the time, when White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby was asked if reporting of the pause was accurate, he said, “I’m not gonna confirm that reporting.”

During a testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subpanel Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed those reports.

“We’re going to continue to do what’s necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself,” Austin told. “But that said, we are currently reviewing some near-term security assistance shipments in the context of unfolding events in Rafah.”

“I think we haven’t made any decisions. We did pause as we reevaluated some of the security assistance we’re providing to—”

At that point, Austin was interrupted by attendees who had, until that point, been standing behind him silently.

“Free Palestine!” the protesters shouted, holding their arms high with a red substance smeared onto their palms.

“The administration said Tuesday that it pumped the brakes on the shipment of 2,000- and 500-pound bombs to Israel,” POLITICO reports. “The delay was meant to send a message to Israel as it appears poised to invade Rafah, where over a million Palestinians are now sheltering.”

“We’ve been very clear … that Israel shouldn’t launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battlespace,” Austin continued. “And again, as we have assessed the situation, we have paused one shipment of high-payload munitions.”

Axios reports that sources briefed on the issue expressed deep frustration to their American counterparts.

“The sources said Israel told the Biden administration it was upset not only about the decision to put the shipment on hold, but also about the decision to leak it to the media,” per the outlet. “The Israelis are concerned that Hamas will not move from its positions when it sees the level of U.S. pressure on Israel.”

Israelis reportedly told U.S. officials the timing could thwart negotiations for hostages and a ceasefire, which are ongoing in Cairo.

Biden administration officials were further encouraged by Israelis to put pressure on Hamas, not Israel, and reaffirm their commitment to stand with their ally in the Middle East.

Al Arabiya English reports that U.S. officials are encouraging their Israeli counterparts to utilize more precise targeting when seeking out members of Hamas.

“Those discussions are ongoing and have not fully addressed our concerns,” the official told the outlet. “As Israeli leaders seemed to approach a decision point on such an operation, we began to carefully review proposed transfers of particular weapons to Israel that might be used in Rafah. This began in April.”

That review is reportedly what led to the halt in shipment of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs.

“We are especially focused on the end-use of the 2,000-lb bombs and the impact they could have in dense urban settings as we have seen in other parts of Gaza. We have not made a final determination on how to proceed with this shipment,” the official told the outlet.

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