US to unblock shipment of hundreds of bombs to Israel: Report

The United States has decided to release a shipment of 1,800 bombs to Israel that was suspended several months ago amid concerns over destruction in the Gazan city of Rafah, Axios has reported.

According to unnamed US and Israeli officials who spoke with the news site, the administration of US President Joe Biden is willing to send a batch of 500-pound (226kg) bombs that were put on hold in April. At the time, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cited Israel’s failure to heed warnings that it “shouldn’t launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battle space”.

Axios suggested the unfreezing means the US is now less worried that Israel could use those bombs in Gaza, as it seeks to improve relations with its key Middle East ally, which had been strained since the start of the Israel-Hamas war last October. The bombs are reportedly due to be delivered in two weeks, after Israel’s operation in Rafah is over.

US and Israeli officials are still in talks on another part of the shipment that includes 1,800 2,000-pound (900kg) bombs, the report said. Axios also noted that negotiations on releasing arms to Israel were delayed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public jabs at Washington on the matter.

On Friday, Reuters reported that since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the US has provided Israel with a total of 14,000 of the 2,000-pound bombs, 6,500 500-pound bombs, 3,000 Hellfire missiles, and other munitions. Washington has also sent $6.5 billion in security assistance since October 7.

The hostilities between Israel and the Gaza-based armed group Hamas have so far claimed the lives of more than 37,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis, while causing unprecedented destruction and a humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave.

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