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US approves more bombs and fighter jets worth billions for Israel: Report

Some of the bombs approved have previously been associated with high casualty counts in Gaza
A displaced Palestinian child flies a kite near the border with Egypt in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 28 March 2024. (Said Khatib/AfP)

In recent days, the Biden administration approved a shipment of fighter jets and bombs worth billions of dollars to Israel, a new report shows.

This decision came despite Washington's apprehensions regarding a possible military operation in southern Gaza's Rafah, which poses a significant risk to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians.

According to the Washington Post report, the latest arms shipments to Israel encompass over 1,800 MK84 bombs, each weighing 2,000 pounds, and 500 MK82 bombs, each weighing 500 pounds.

The Post reported, citing US officials who chose to remain anonymous, that the 2,000-pound bombs have previously been associated with significant casualties during Israel's military actions in Gaza.

The MK84 and MK82 bombs, which were approved for transfer this week, had received congressional approval years earlier, though their delivery had not been completed until now.

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The 2,000-pound bombs, which can demolish city blocks and create craters wider than 40 feet, are rarely used anymore by western militaries in densely populated locations due to the risk of civilian casualties, the Post reported.

According to the newspaper, a State Department official said that “fulfilling an authorisation from one notification to Congress can result in dozens of individual Foreign Military Sales cases across the decades-long life-cycle of the congressional notification.”

“As a matter of practicality, major procurements, like Israel’s F-35 program for example, are often broken out into several cases over many years,” the official told the Post.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the US had approved more than 100 separate arms sales to Israel since 7 October, and did so without having to notify Congress.

Famine present in Gaza

Last week, Middle East Eye reported that the US was planning to move ahead with several major arms transfers to Israel. Part of the package of arms transfers that the US would notify to Congress is a new shipment of precision-guided munitions worth more than $1bn dollars.

In addition to that sale, the US planned to move ahead with a $2.5bn sale of F-35 fighter jets, Josh Paul, the former director of congressional and public affairs for the State Department’s bureau of political-military affairs, said.

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The report from the Washington Post comes after a US State Department official said on Friday that famine likely exists in certain parts of northern Gaza, with other regions at risk of descending into starvation. This statement came a day following the world's highest court's directive for Israel to allow the entry of food aid into the area.

“While we can say with confidence that famine is a significant risk in the south and centre but not present, in the north, it is both a risk and quite possibly is present in at least some areas,” a State Department official told Reuters.

A State Department official said that the count of trucks delivering aid in southern and central Gaza had almost hit 200 daily, marking a rise from the previous month, however, an even greater number of trucks was required.

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