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They assure that the US stopped the shipment of weapons to Israel to prevent the invasion of Rafah

US President Joe Biden’s administration stopped a weapons shipment to Israel last week in opposition to apparent moves by the Israelis to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Biden has been trying to prevent a large-scale attack by the Israelis on Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge from fighting elsewhere in Gaza.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that as Israeli leaders appeared to get closer to a decision on a raid on Rafah, “we began carefully reviewing proposals for particular weapons transfers to Israel that could be used in Rafah” starting April.

A Palestinian watches smoke rise after Israeli strikes in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, May 7, 2024. Photo: Reuters

“As a result of that review, last week we stopped a shipment of weapons. It is made up of 1,800 2,000-pound (900 kilo) bombs and 1,700 500-pound (225 kilo) bombs,” the official said.

“We are especially focused on the end use of the 2,000-pound bombs and the impact they could have in dense urban environments 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 said.

Four sources said the shipments, which have been delayed for at least two weeks, involved joint direct attack munitions made by Boeing, which convert dummy bombs into precision-guided bombs, as well as small diameter bombs.

The delay comes at a time when Washington is publicly pressuring Israel to postpone its planned offensive in Rafah until it has taken steps to avoid civilian casualties.

The White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces seized the main border crossing between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah, cutting off a vital aid route to the small enclave.

Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli attack on a house, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on May 8, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Without addressing whether there was a delay in arms shipments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reaffirmed that Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security was “ironclad.”

Still, when asked about reports of the weapons grabs, he added: “Two things could be true, in the sense of having those conversations, tough, direct conversations with our counterparts in Israel… to ensure that lives of citizens are protected… and achieve that commitment.”

The Pentagon said Monday that there had been no political decision to deny weapons to Israel, the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East.

Still, the delays appeared to be the first since the Biden administration offered its full support to Israel following the Hamas attack on October 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed and another 250 were kidnapped, of whom 133 are believed to be remain captive in Gaza, according to Israeli counts.

A Palestinian woman injured in an Israeli attack is rushed to a hospital as Israeli forces launch a ground and air operation in the eastern part of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on May 7, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Israel’s campaign to destroy Hamas has led to a seven-month-long military campaign that has killed a total of 34,789 Palestinians, most of them civilians, Gaza’s Health Ministry said.

The conflict has also left many of Gaza’s 2.3 million people on the brink of famine and sparked protests in the United States demanding that universities and Biden withdraw support for Israel, including arms supplies.

A senior Israeli official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, did not confirm any specific delays in arms supplies, but appeared to take the reports in stride: “As the prime minister has already said, if we have to fight with our nails, then “We will do what we have to do.”

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