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United States

Biden Warns Israel: Halt Rafah Invasion or Face US Weapons Embargo

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  • President Joe Biden has warned Israel that the US will stop supplying certain weapons if Israel invades Rafah, marking a significant shift in US-Israel military aid policy.
  • The US's decision is driven by concerns over the humanitarian impact of military operations in Gaza, particularly the high civilian casualties.
  • Despite the warning, the US remains committed to supporting Israel's defense capabilities, including the Iron Dome air defense system, underscoring a nuanced approach to national security and human rights.

President Joe Biden has unequivocally warned Israel of a significant shift in US policy regarding military aid. During a candid interview with CNN, Biden made it clear that the United States would halt the supply of certain conventional weapons to Israel if it decides to launch a large-scale invasion of Rafah, a densely populated city in southern Gaza. This bold stance marks a pivotal moment in the longstanding US-Israel relationship, highlighting a growing concern over the humanitarian implications of military operations in conflict zones.

On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden issued a public warning to Israel, indicating that the United States will stop providing weaponry for any operation that would involve a large invasion of Rafah, a city located in southern Gaza. This was the first time that President Biden has made such a statement. Biden's warning comes against the backdrop of a seven-month-long offensive by Israel in Gaza, aimed at quelling Hamas but resulting in the tragic loss of 34,789 Palestinian lives, most of whom were civilians. The potential invasion of Rafah, home to over a million Palestinians seeking refuge, has been a point of contention, with Israel describing its operations as limited.

The US's decision to scrutinize and subsequently halt a consignment of 1,800 2,000lb bombs and 1,700 500lb bombs intended for use in Rafah underscores the seriousness of Biden's warning. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed this sentiment, expressing deep concern for the civilians of Rafah and opposition to a major Israeli invasion without adequate civilian safeguards. "Civilians have perished in Gaza due to those bombs and other methods Israel employs to target population centers," Austin stated, highlighting the devastating impact of military operations on civilian populations.

Despite the stern warning regarding offensive operations, Biden reassured that the US would continue to support Israel's defense capabilities, including the provision of the Iron Dome air defense system. This distinction between defensive and offensive military aid reflects a nuanced approach to ensuring Israel's security while addressing the complex humanitarian issues arising from the conflict.

The ongoing campaign in Gaza, initiated by a Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, has already claimed approximately 1,200 lives, with an additional 250 individuals abducted. Biden's warning represents a significant shift in US foreign policy, emphasizing the importance of balancing national security interests with the imperative to protect human rights and civilian lives in conflict zones.

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