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White House asks Pentagon, State Department for list of weapons transfers to Israel: Report

US officials reportedly say the move is routine and does not mean weapons transfers to Israel will be suspended
Israeli soldiers walk past battle tanks deployed at a position near Gaza amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, on 2 January 2024 (AFP)

The White House has asked the State Department and Pentagon to provide a list of upcoming weapons transfers to Israel, Axios reported citing four US officials, amid growing scrutiny over the Biden administration's military support for Israel's war in Gaza.

US officials told Axios that the request was not a signal that Washington was planning to suspend upcoming weapons transfers to Israel or change course on its current policies with regard to its military assistance.

One official told the news site that one of the reasons for the request was to cross-check it with a list provided by Israel, to ensure that the Biden administration was prioritising the transfer of weapons that Israel was asking for. 

Axios further reported that this was the first time the White House had made such a request since 7 October, when the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel led to the beginning of the war in Gaza.

It also comes amid increasing scrutiny over US weapons transfers and broader military and diplomatic support for Israel's war in Gaza, where the Israeli military onslaught has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, the majority being women and children.

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Just days after 7 October, the top State Department official overseeing weapons transfers, Josh Paul, resigned from his post, citing a lack of proper scrutiny in the processing of military assistance to Israel.

This week, more than 30 lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden, calling on him to urge Israel not to launch an invasion of the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, saying that such a move by the Israeli military would violate US law mandating that American military aid be used in compliance with international humanitarian law.

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Earlier this week, both The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported that the US had delivered more than 100 different shipments of military assistance to Israel since October. None of the transactions required congressional notification because they fell below a certain dollar threshold.

Lawmakers have also pointed to a new national security memorandum that was signed into law last month, which requires any recipient of US military aid to give "credible and reliable written assurances" it will comply with international law.

The Biden administration asked Israel to provide a signed letter of said assurances by mid-March, according to Axios. If the assurances are not provided, US weapons transfers would have to be suspended.

The war in Gaza began on 7 October when Hamas led an attack on southern Israel that killed 1,139 people, according to an official figure reported by AFP. At least 240 people were also taken hostage.

Israel responded by imposing a full siege on Gaza, which included cutting off Gaza's water supply, and also launched an indiscriminate aerial bombing campaign. Weeks later, it launched a ground invasion of Gaza.

In addition to Israel killing more than 30,000 Palestinians, the military campaign has also levelled entire residential neighbourhoods, targeted hospitals and mosques, and killed healthcare workers and journalists.

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