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US announces plans to send over $1 billion of new weapons to Israel 

The White House has informed Congress of its intention to send over $1 billion worth of arms to Israel. Last week, it halted a shipment of bombs to Israel due to concerns about potential civilian casualties in densely populated areas. 

The proposed new package, as reported by US media, still needs approval from lawmakers. It includes $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds, according to the Associated Press.

Despite the US opposition to a full-scale Israeli military invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, the arms transfer proceeds. 

Israel initiated a military campaign against Hamas following the group’s cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7, resulting in about 1,200 deaths and 252 hostages. 

Since then, more than 35,170 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry. Israeli tanks have advanced further into residential areas in the southeastern part of Gaza City.

Last month, Congress approved a $95 billion aid package for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. A recent report by the US State Department found that some American-made weapons provided to Israel may have been used in violation of international law. 

While critical of certain Israeli actions in Gaza, the report did not definitively declare the Israel Defense Forces’ campaign as breaching international law. It noted receiving credible assurances from Israel regarding the legal use of US weapons.

This arms package sent to Congress is the first since the Biden administration halted arms transfers to Israel last week over concerns about potential misuse in ground operations. President Biden stated that the delay in sending 2,000-pound bombs to Israel was due to concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza resulting from their use.

Weapon transfers to Israel have become a political issue for President Biden ahead of the 2024 White House election. News of the latest arms package surfaced shortly after the conclusion of a presidential primary election in Maryland, where activists encouraged voters to protest what they perceived as Biden’s favouritism toward Israel in the Gaza conflict. 

Republican lawmakers in Congress have introduced legislation to prevent further halts on weapons shipments to Israel. 

The House of Representatives will vote this week on a measure mandating the state and defence departments to ensure the prompt delivery of military equipment. The White House has pledged to veto the bill if it passes the Senate, which appears unlikely.

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