US Approves Emergency Sale of Weapons to Israel Amid Escalating Gaza Conflict

Sat Dec 30 2023
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WASHINGTON: In a move bypassing the typical congressional review process, the United States (US) has given the green light to a $147.5 million emergency sale of 155mm high-explosive artillery munitions and related equipment to Israel. This decision follows a recent authorization for the sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of 120mm tank ammunition earlier in the month.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency revealed that Israel had initially requested additional munitions, including 155mm fuses, primers, and charges, expanding the estimated total cost. The secretary of state has deemed an emergency situation, justifying the immediate sale of these weapons to Israel without the customary congressional review.

The munitions will be sourced from US Army stocks, and the statement emphasized Israel’s intent to utilize the enhanced capabilities as a deterrent against regional threats. It underlined the importance for all countries, including Israel, to employ such munitions in compliance with international humanitarian law.

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes on two urban refugee camps in central Gaza on Saturday, escalating the conflict despite continued international calls for a ceasefire due to increasing civilian casualties, hunger, and mass displacement in the region.

Israeli air and ground offensive has displaced 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents. The United States has diplomatically supported Israel and continued to supply weapons to kill Palestinians. Simultaneously, the Biden administration urges Israel to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians.

In the urban refugee camps of Nuseirat and Bureij, residents reported overnight Israeli airstrikes, with casualties reported, including a strike on the home of a journalist for Al-Quds TV. The war has forced tens of thousands of Palestinians into crowded cities like Rafah, where makeshift shelters have been set up.

Dire Humanitarian Conditions in Gaza

Despite a UN Security Council resolution calling for unhindered aid delivery to Gaza, conditions have worsened. Aid officials cite inadequate aid, delays at border crossings, ongoing fighting, and breakdowns in communication and law and order. The situation has left nearly the entire population dependent on humanitarian aid, with a quarter facing starvation due to limited supplies.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved a $147.5 million emergency weapons sale to Israel, citing the urgency of defensive needs. This marks the second such bypass of congressional review this month. Some lawmakers link the proposed $14.3 billion aid package for Israel to concrete steps to reduce civilian casualties.

Since October7, more than 21,672 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed with reports of increasing disease spread, particularly in southern Gaza. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of increasing cases of respiratory infections, diarrhea, lice, scabies, chickenpox, skin rashes, and meningitis.

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