US confirms arms shipment to Israel halted over concerns on Rafah attack

The US halted a sizeable weapons shipment to Israel due to worries about their potential use in Rafah, an official told US media on Tuesday.

The official, who requested anonymity, said that the shipment included 1,800 bombs of 2,000 pounds (907 kilogram) and 1,700 bombs of 500 lb. (227 kg), stressing concern about the use of the larger bombs in densely populated areas of Gaza, NBC news reported.

The statement came after the Israeli military said that its tanks had entered Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and seized control of the city’s critical border crossing with Egypt.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced that he had instructed troops to act in Rafah, following his government's rejection of a cease-fire proposal supported by Hamas a day earlier. Later, both Israel and Palestinian group Hamas reported fighting between their sides in eastern Rafah, a city of last refuge for some 1.5 million people.

The US official said the administration last month began reviewing weapon shipments to Israel due to concerns about Rafah. Israel has not yet addressed US concerns about a potential major military operation in the area, but has brushed off leaders worldwide warning an offensive there would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.

On Sunday, an Israeli source said Tel Aviv is “unaware” of any US decision to put a hold on a shipment of ammunition to Israel.

Washington has provided military and diplomatic support for Israel amid Tel Aviv’s deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip, which has killed nearly 34,800 people and injured over 78,000, following a Hamas attack last Oct. 7 that killed some 1,200.

Seven months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85% of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine, according to the UN.

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