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  /  News   /  US to resume 500-pound bomb shipments to Israel

US to resume 500-pound bomb shipments to Israel

The Biden administration will resume shipments of 500-pound bombs to Israel, which were initially part of a package of weapons held up over concerns about their use in Gaza, where Israeli forces have been accused of using heavy munitions in densely populated areas, according to a U.S. official.

The 500-pound bombs were not held up over concerns about their use in densely populated areas but were paused because they were part of a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs the White House did have concerns about, the official said.

One shipment of 2,000-pound bombs is still on hold.

Israel orders all Palestinians to leave Gaza’s largest city

President Biden first announced he was holding a shipment of high-payload bombs in May before Israel moved into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, citing concerns about Israel indiscriminately bombing targets and killing civilians.

Israel has since pushed into Rafah and fought the Palestinian militant group Hamas across the city, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee to a crowded refuge on the shores of Gaza that humanitarian groups say is still not safe.

The official said the concern has remained over the end use of the 2,000-pound bombs, particularly in relation to the Rafah campaign, which Israel has indicated is winding down as Israeli forces look toward a lower-intensity conflict with Hamas.

Biden’s move on the 500-pound bomb shipments comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month accused the U.S. of withholding arms transfers, starting a public feud. The White House said it was only the shipment of bombs it was holding and everything else was moving forward.

The news also comes as Israeli forces are continuing to fight across Gaza, where more than 38,000 people have died since the war began on Oct. 7, leading to international scrutiny of how Israel is carrying out the war, including from Biden, who has pledged to defend Israel but has also raised concerns about the impact of the war on Palestinian civilians.

Israel on Wednesday announced evacuation orders for certain areas of Gaza City, where forces are still battling Hamas militants in retaliation for an Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel during which some 1,200 people were killed. Hamas also kidnapped some 250 hostages, with 120 still in Gaza, an unclear number alive.

Hospitals in Gaza City are reportedly moving quickly to shut down operation after the evacuation orders, as they have often done during the war out of fear over Israeli raids. Israel has attacked several hospitals in the war, claiming Hamas uses the facilities as military bases, but the evidence to back up those claims has not been considered sufficient.

The United Nations said it was “appalled” that civilians are being forced to evacuate multiple times and still remain unsafe across Gaza from Israeli strikes, but the Israel Defense Forces said they were trying to minimize civilian deaths in combat zones.

Dialogue for a cease-fire and hostage release deal is underway in Qatar, with hopes remaining high for the first time in months that an agreement can be reached, but the fighting in Gaza City is threatening to undo the progress after Hamas warned the attacks were damaging the talks.