Joe Biden Allocates $1B Arms to Israel Amid Rafah Tensions

Biden's arms deals for Israel face scrutiny and criticism.

by Nouman Rasool
Joe Biden Allocates $1B Arms to Israel Amid Rafah Tensions
© Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Biden administration has taken a significant step by notifying congressional committees of its intention to proceed with over $1 billion in arms deals for Israel. This major transfer of lethal aid includes $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds.

The announcement comes just a week after the White House paused a single bomb shipment due to concerns over potential civilian casualties from a planned assault in southern Gaza. This decision highlights the administration's delicate balance in addressing the demands of pro-Israel donors within the Democratic Party, especially after the controversial halt of the bomb shipment.

The move also refutes Republican accusations, led by Senator Tom Cotton, that Biden had imposed an "arms embargo" on Israel. A U.S. official reassured The Washington Post that "arms transfers are proceeding as scheduled," echoing national security adviser Jake Sullivan's comments on the continued military assistance to Israel.

Tiered Review Process

First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the notification to the relevant House and Senate committees is part of a "tiered review" process that precedes formal congressional notification. Critics argue that advancing the arms package undermines U.S.

efforts to restrain Israel's military actions in Lebanon and Gaza, where the Biden administration has pushed for more targeted approaches. Israeli officials have pledged a major invasion into southern Gaza to eliminate four Hamas battalions in Rafah, despite warnings from the Biden administration about the likely severe civilian casualties and the disruption of essential aid.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed grave concerns, stating that such operations would inflict "terrible harm to civilians" and would not eradicate Hamas entirely. The latest arms shipments may not arrive immediately, but critics argue that advancing these packages signals to Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that U.S.

warnings about Rafah can be disregarded. Senator Chris Van Hollen, a White House ally, has voiced strong opposition, insisting that no additional offensive arms should be transferred until Israel addresses the president's concerns and meets demands for humanitarian aid delivery.

Despite the controversy, there is substantial bipartisan support for U.S. arms transfers to Israel. Jake Sullivan, in defending Washington's stance, clarified that the shipment of 2,000-pound bombs was paused to avoid their use in densely populated areas.

Joe Biden