Biden resumes bomb shipments to Israel amid Gaza war crimes allegations

Despite accusations of war crimes in Gaza, the Biden administration ends its pause on bomb shipments to Israel, sparking criticism and concerns over U.S. complicity.

Image Credit: FLASH90/REUTERS

The Biden administration has resumed shipments of 500-pound bombs to Israel, ending a two-month pause that had been instituted amid concerns over the use of U.S.-supplied weapons in alleged war crimes in Gaza. This decision has reignited criticism and raised questions about the United States’ role in the ongoing conflict.

According to an unnamed Biden administration official, the bombs “are in the process of being shipped” to Israel and are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. The Wall Street Journal reported this development on Wednesday, highlighting the contentious nature of U.S. military support for Israel.

The Biden administration initially suspended the transfer of 500- and 2,000-pound bombs, manufactured by aerospace giant Boeing, in May. This suspension was due to fears that these devastating munitions would be used in airstrikes on Rafah, a southern Gaza city where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge. By the time of the suspension, Israel had already dropped hundreds of 2,000-pound bombs on Gaza, including in an October 31 attack on the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp, killing more than 120 civilians.

An administration official stated that the pause on 2,000-pound bomb shipments would remain in effect, but shipments of 500-pound bombs would proceed. “Our main concern had been and remains the potential use of 2,000-pound bombs in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza,” the official said. “Because our concern was not about the 500-pound bombs, those are moving forward as part of the usual process.”

Israeli forces have been accused of committing war crimes and genocide in Gaza, frequently using U.S.-supplied weapons. The United Nations Human Rights Office stated last month that Israel’s use of 2,000-pound bombs and other U.S.-supplied weapons likely violated international law by deliberately targeting civilians in disproportionate attacks. Israeli military commanders have also faced criticism for using artificial intelligence-based target selection to approve bombings, knowing they would cause high civilian casualties.

Smaller bombs, such as the 500-pound bombs now being shipped, have also resulted in significant civilian casualties. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that multiple weapons experts, including a former U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal technician, identified a fragment from a Boeing-made GBU-39 250-pound bomb used in an attack on a refugee tent encampment outside the al-Awda school in southern Gaza, which killed and wounded scores of civilians, including many women and children.

Palestinian and international agencies report that Israel’s 278-day Gaza assault and siege have left at least 137,500 Palestinians dead, maimed, or missing. Israel’s conduct in the war is the subject of an International Court of Justice genocide case, and International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders for crimes including extermination.

The decision to resume bomb shipments has drawn sharp criticism from various quarters. Jewish Voice for Peace Action, referencing the al-Awda massacre, stated, “This is what U.S. funding and weapons do. Arms embargo NOW.”

Critics have also highlighted the broader context of U.S. complicity in the Gaza conflict. Reuters reported last month that since October, the U.S. has sent Israel 14,000 2,000-pound bombs, 6,500 500-pound bombs, 3,000 Hellfire missiles, 1,000 bunker-buster bombs, 2,600 air-dropped small-diameter bombs, and other munitions. This extensive military aid, coupled with diplomatic support, has raised concerns about the United States’ role in enabling alleged war crimes.

The Biden administration and the State Department have faced intense scrutiny throughout the U.S.-backed Israeli war on Gaza. The State Department’s annual genocide report, required under the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018, has been criticized for its omissions. The report details U.S. efforts to address genocide and war crimes globally but has been accused of downplaying the situation in Gaza.

The Intercept’s Prem Thakker shared the department’s statement about the report on social media, pointing out that it primarily mentions Sudan and Ukraine, with only brief references to Israel and Gaza. Assal Rad, an expert in Middle East history, responded, “I guess they left out the genocide they’re arming and funding.”

The resumption of bomb shipments to Israel highlights the ongoing debate over U.S. military aid and its implications. Despite overwhelming evidence of Israeli war crimes, the Biden administration remains a steadfast supporter, providing billions of dollars in military aid and offering diplomatic cover in the form of United Nations Security Council vetoes.

As of Wednesday, health officials in Gaza reported at least 38,243 people killed and 88,243 injured in the conflict. Thousands more remain missing and presumed dead. Israeli forces have devastated civilian infrastructure, leaving a trail of bombed-out homes, hospitals, schools, and mosques.

“There is consensus among the humanitarian community,” said Stacy Gilbert, a former State Department official, “that Israel has obstructed relief efforts. That’s why I object to that report saying that Israel is not blocking humanitarian assistance. That is patently false.”


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Jordan Atwood is a dynamic War and Politics Reporter known for his incisive analysis and comprehensive coverage of international conflicts and political landscapes. His work is driven by a commitment to uncovering the truth and providing a clear, informed understanding of complex geopolitical events. Jordan's reporting not only captures the realities of war but also delves into the political strategies and implications behind them, making his work essential for those seeking a deeper understanding of world affairs.