Biden Pressures Israel to Reach Gaza Cease-Fire and Threatens to Withhold Arms

By John Mercury May 10, 2024

The Biden administration dispatched the head of the C.I.A. to meet on Wednesday with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, part of an effort to limit Israel’s military operation in the Gazan city of Rafah and push for a cease-fire deal with Hamas.

The visit came as President Biden made some of his strongest statements aimed at Israel, warning that he would not supply the country with artillery shells and other weapons if Israel moved forward with its plans for a major ground offensive into Rafah.

Speaking in an interview with CNN, Mr. Biden also acknowledged on Wednesday that Israel has used American bombs to kill civilians in the territory.

“If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, that deal with that problem,” he said.

Mr. Biden stressed that the United States would still ensure Israel’s defenses, but would block the delivery of artillery shells that could be fired into the urban areas of Rafah.

Mr. Biden already halted the shipment of 3,500 bombs last week out of concern that they might be used in a major assault on Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians have taken refuge. It was the first time since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel that Mr. Biden has used his leverage over Israel’s weapons to try to influence how the war is being waged, in an unusually public rift between the two allies.


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