Biden quietly greenlights billions in bombs, warplanes to Israel amid Gaza tensions

In a quiet but significant move, the Biden administration authorizes billions in arms to Israel, sparking a complex debate on the ethics of military aid amid potential civilian casualties in Gaza.

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The corridors of power in Washington have been the scene of a consequential decision that has largely escaped public scrutiny. In a move that juxtaposes geopolitical strategy against humanitarian imperatives, the Biden administration has recently authorized the transfer of billions of dollars worth of bombs and fighter jets to Israel. This decision comes at a time when the specter of an extensive military offensive looms over southern Gaza, threatening the lives and well-being of countless Palestinian civilians.

The new arms package earmarked for Israel is nothing short of formidable. It includes over 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs alongside 500 MK82 500-pound bombs. These munitions are not unfamiliar with controversy, having been linked to mass-casualty incidents in the past during Israel’s military engagements in Gaza. The decision to proceed with these transfers, as Pentagon and State Department officials have revealed, underscores a complex web of diplomatic considerations and strategic calculations.

At the heart of this unfolding narrative is the Biden administration’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself. “We have continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself,” asserted a White House official, clarifying that conditioning aid based on Israel’s military strategies is not in line with current policy. This stance, however, does not exist in a vacuum. It is set against a backdrop of rising tensions between the United States and Israel, particularly over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategies in Gaza, including the ongoing raid on al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

The humanitarian implications of an escalated conflict in Gaza are profound. Rafah, often described as the final stronghold of Hamas, is bracing for the potential onslaught. U.S. and Israeli intelligence reports suggest the presence of four Hamas battalions in the area, with more than 1.2 million Palestinians having sought refuge there from Israel’s bombing campaigns. The Biden administration, aware of the potential for a humanitarian disaster, has sought to engage with Israeli officials, urging restraint and a commitment to minimizing civilian casualties.

The authorization of such significant arms transfers has not gone unnoticed or unchallenged within the United States. Senator Chris Van Hollen, among others, has voiced a pressing need for the U.S. to leverage its aid more effectively. “The Biden administration needs to use their leverage effectively and, in my view, they should receive these basic commitments before greenlighting more bombs for Gaza,” Van Hollen articulated.

The MK84 and MK82 bombs, central to this arms transfer, are particularly contentious. Capable of leveling city blocks, their use in densely populated areas has been largely abandoned by Western militaries due to the high risk of civilian casualties. Yet, their extensive use by Israel in Gaza, including in the notorious bombing of the Jabalya refugee camp, has drawn international condemnation and raised questions about the proportionality and legality of such strikes.

As the Biden administration navigates this delicate juncture, the dynamics of U.S.-Israel relations are under a microscope. The silent approval of these arms transfers, despite public and private reservations about Israel’s military tactics, reveals the tightrope of diplomacy that the U.S. is walking. While seeking to uphold Israel’s security, the U.S. is also faced with the moral and legal imperatives to prevent civilian harm and uphold international law.

As the situation unfolds, the silent approval of significant arms transfers to Israel by the Biden administration raises crucial questions about the intersection of military support and civilian protection in the Gaza conflict. Biden’s continuous approval of weapons transfers are an “abrogation of moral responsibility, and an assault on the rule of law as we know it, at both the domestic and international levels,” said Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned in protest of Biden’s Gaza policy.

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