US to Resume Shipping 500-Pound Bombs to Israel, US Official Says

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (AP)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (AP)
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US to Resume Shipping 500-Pound Bombs to Israel, US Official Says

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (AP)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (AP)

President Joe Biden's administration will resume shipping 500-pound bombs to Israel but will continue to hold back on supplying 2,000-pound bombs over concerns about their use in densely populated Gaza, a US official said on Wednesday.

The US in May paused a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs due to concern over the impact they could have in Gaza during the war that began with Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 cross-border raid.

The administration's particular concern had been use of such large bombs in Rafah, where over one million Palestinians had taken refuge.

"We’ve been clear that our concern has been on the end-use of the 2,000-lb bombs, particularly for Israel’s Rafah campaign which they have announced they are concluding," a US official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

One 2,000-pound bomb can rip through thick concrete and metal, creating a wide blast radius.

The US official said the 500-pound bombs were put together in the same shipment with the larger ones that were paused and therefore got held up.

"Our main concern had been and remains the potential use of 2,000 lb bombs in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza ... Because our concern was not about the 500 lb bombs, those are moving forward as part of the usual process," the official added.

The US has notified Israel that it is releasing the 500-pound bombs but keeping the hold on the larger ones, a person familiar with the matter said.

In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Washington was withholding weapons, and pleaded with US officials to remedy the situation. Biden's aides expressed disappointment and confusion over the Israeli leader’s remarks.

During his visit to Washington, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said there had been significant progress on the issue of US munitions supply to Israel, adding "obstacles were removed and bottlenecks were addressed."

Despite the pause on one shipment, Israel has continued to receive steady flow of US weaponry.

Reuters reported last month that between the start of Gaza war last October and end-June, the US has transferred at least 14,000 of the MK-84 2,000-pound bombs, 6,500 500-pound bombs, 3,000 Hellfire precision-guided air-to-ground missiles, 1,000 bunker-buster bombs, 2,600 air-dropped small-diameter bombs, and other munitions.

International scrutiny of Israel's military operation in Gaza has intensified as the Palestinian death toll from the war has exceeded 38,000, according to the Gaza health ministry, and has left the coastal enclave in ruins.

The latest bloodshed in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict began on Oct. 7 when Palestinian Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage, according to Israeli tallies.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.