The Biden White House has quietly agreed to transfer billions of dollars worth of bombs and dozens of F-35 fighter jets to Israel, administration sources have revealed. The new weapons deal, which will include heavy ordinance linked to mass-casualty bombings in Gaza, come despite souring relations between the Biden administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the impending ground invasion of Rafah, which is expected to set off a humanitarian disaster in the refugee-packed city.

First reported by The Washington Post, the new arms package will consist of 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, according to Pentagon and State Department officials familiar with the matter. The explosives are expected to be delivered in the coming months to supplement the steady supply of weaponry the US has provided to Israel since the war began.

The delivery will also include 25 advanced F-35A fighter jets, rounding out a fleet of 75 of the $2.5 billion aircraft approved for delivery to the Israelis by Congress in 2008. This existing deal meant that the State Department did not need to notify lawmakers about the latest delivery order. Only 36 of the promised planes have been delivered so far. This new batch of F-35s was requested in July, but will likely take several more years to arrive, per The Times of Israel.

Learn the benefits of becoming a Valuetainment Member and subscribe today!

The Biden White House will transfer billions of dollars worth of bombs and 25F-35 fighter jets to Israel, despite concerns about the coming Rafah invasion. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
(AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

The White House authorization for the deal took effect despite a growing rift with the federal government over the conduct of the war, particularly Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan to deploy the Israeli Defense Force into the city of Rafah in southern Gaza. According to US and Israeli intelligence officials, four Hamas battalions are sheltering in the city—but so are nearly 1.2 million civilians displaced from the north by Israel’s military operation.

In the past, US President Joe Biden has indicated that a “scorched-earth invasion” of the city would cross a “red line,” and prominent members of his administration and the Democratic Party have backed calls for a ceasefire or a change in Israel’s strategy. Following his State of the Union address last month, a hot mic caught Biden promising to give Netanyahu a “come-to-Jesus moment” over the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He also announced the construction of a floating pier to allow US military forces to deliver food and supplies to Palestinian civilians.

When American officials refused to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Netanyahu canceled an Israeli delegation to Washington, DC. That delegation, ironically, was intended to discuss plans for the Rafah invasion.

Related: More Than 50% of Americans No Longer Support Israel’s War in Gaza

But despite the growing divide between the US and Israeli governments, the authorization of the new weapons deal indicates that military aid is off-limits as a negotiating tool for the Biden administration. However, critics of the war have continued to call for the president to reconsider this stance, claiming that continued aid gives Israel a sense of impunity and allows them to use American resources indiscriminately.

For example, the 2,000-pound bombs included in the delivery, which are capable of obliterating entire city blocks and can produce impact craters 40 feet wide, have been blamed for many of the civilian casualties in Gaza since Israel launched its retaliatory strikes against Hamas following the October 7th attacks.

US-made 2,000-pound bombs

A New York Times investigation in December found that these explosives have been used in densely populated neighborhoods on a routine basis, contributing to more than 32,000 Palestinian casualties. Pentagon regulations for itself largely prohibit using the bombs in urban areas given the likelihood of collateral damage.

Biden’s willingness to approve further weapon transfers is an “abrogation of moral responsibility, and an assault on the rule of law as we know it, at both the domestic and international levels,” said Josh Paul, a former State Department official involved in arms transfers who resigned in protest of Biden’s Gaza policy. “This is a policymaking process that is fundamentally broken, and which makes everyone from policymaking officials to defense manufacturers to the US taxpayer complicit in Israel’s war crimes.”

At the same time, Congressional Republicans, members of the America-Israel PAC (AIPAC), and several key Democrats still back the resupply efforts.

“The US can protect civilians, on both sides of the conflict, by continuing to ensure Israel receives as much US assistance as is needed, as expeditiously as possible, to keep its stockpiles full of lifesaving munitions,” Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX), Rep. Don Davis (D-NC), and Michael Makovsky, president of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Examiner. “Doing so is also morally right and in the US interest.”

The United States currently commits $3.8 billion to Israel annually as a standing part of its yearly budget.

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

Add comment