The White House is reportedly considering to use weapons as leverage
The White House is discussing withholding or delaying the shipments of offensive weapons to Israel in order to compel the Jewish state to scale back the ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip, NBC News reported on Sunday.
According to the report, Israel has asked the US to send additional aid, including powerful aerial bombs and air defenses. NBC News cited three current and one former US official as saying that the US is “considering slowing or pausing the deliveries in the hope that doing so will prod the Israelis to take action, such as opening humanitarian corridors to provide more aid to Palestinian civilians.”
The deliveries of 155 mm artillery rounds and equipment that converts ‘dumb bombs’ into precision-guided munitions is reportedly under review by the Pentagon. At the same time, officials were quoted as saying that “no decisions have been made” on the matter, and that the US “is likely to continue to provide other conversion kits that make Israeli munitions more precise.”
The officials added that the White House is “not likely to slow the delivery of air defenses,” but “could possibly withhold or delay” offensive weapons.
The US has been urging Israel to show restraint, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying this month that the civilian death toll in Gaza is “far too high.” In December, President Joe Biden warned that Israel could lose foreign support because of “indiscriminate bombing” in the Palestinian enclave.
More than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the fighting broke out in October, according to local Hamas-run authorities. Israel has rejected the accusations of “genocide,” arguing that Hamas is using civilians as human shields.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that the Jewish state’s goal in Gaza is to “eradicate” the Palestinian armed group Hamas. In a speech this month, Netanyahu vowed that the government will not “surrender” to the militants.
The Israel Defense Forces launched its operation in Gaza in response to the deadly October 7 Hamas attack, which killed some 1,200 people. More than 200 Israelis were taken captive by Hamas. Dozens of hostages were later released as part of a series of prisoner exchanges in November.