Thursday 9 May 2024 - 22:29

Biden Admits Israel Killed Gazans with US Bombs

Story Code : 1134009
Biden Admits Israel Killed Gazans with US Bombs
Biden said for the first time Wednesday he would halt some shipments of American weapons to Israel – which he acknowledged have been used to kill civilians in the Gaza Strip – if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders a large-scale offensive of the city of Rafah.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden told CNN’s Erin Burnett in an exclusive interview, referring to 2,000-pound bombs that Biden paused shipments of last week.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem,” the president added.

The president’s announcement that he was prepared to condition American weaponry on Israel’s actions amounts to a turning point in the 7-month conflict between the regime and Palestinian group Hamas. His acknowledgement that American bombs had been used to kill civilians in the besieged enclave was a stark recognition of the United States’ role in the war.

The president has come under extraordinary pressure, including from members of his own party, to limit shipments of arms amid a humanitarian crisis in the tiny territory.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has confirmed reports that the United States paused a weapons shipment to Israel, as Biden’s administration faces growing pressure to condition aid to the top US ally amid the war in Gaza.

Testifying before a US congressional subcommittee, Austin said the Biden administration had paused “one shipment of high payload munitions” amid concerns about the Israeli military’s push to attack Rafah.

“We’ve been very clear … from the very beginning that Israel shouldn’t launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battlespace,” Austin told US lawmakers.

“We’ve not made a final determination on how to proceed with that shipment [of weapons],” the Pentagon chief added, noting that the transfer is separate from a supplemental aid package for Israel that was passed in late April.

“My final comment is that we are absolutely committed to continuing to support Israel in its right to defend itself,” he stressed.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, has responded to the shipment pause by stating the US decision was “very disappointing”.

The shipment included 1,800 bombs, each weighing about 900kg (2,000lbs), and another 1,700 bombs – each weighing 226kg (500lbs), according to reports.

The Biden administration has faced months of criticism over its “iron-clad” support for Israel amid the Gaza war, which has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians and plunged the enclave into a dire humanitarian crisis.

But Washington has largely continued to provide military and diplomatic backing to Israel as the war grinds on.

Israel stepped up its bombardment of Rafah on Monday, killing dozens of people after ordering about 100,000 residents in the city’s Eastern areas to evacuate.

Israeli soldiers also stormed the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, which serves as a major gateway for humanitarian aid.