Biden Hid Israeli Weapons Stoppage Until After Holocaust Speech

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May 9, 2024

President Joe Biden last week signed off on a pause in the supply of U.S. weapons for Israel's assault on Rafah, but he kept the decision out of the public eye until after his speech on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Biden on Wednesday announced the United States would not supply weapons that Israel could use to carry out its planned operation in Rafah, which Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said is necessary for the Israel Defense Forces to enter as it is the last major Hamas stronghold in Gaza. 

U.S. officials told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity that the president had already signed off last week on pausing a shipment of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs to Israel, but he didn't reveal the decision partly in order to deliver a speech on the Holocaust before the news broke.

"The White House National Security Council sought to keep the decision out of the public eye for several days until it had a better understanding of the scope of Israel’s intensified military operations in Rafah and until Biden could deliver a long-planned speech on Tuesday to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day," the Associated Press reported.

The president told CNN in a Wednesday interview, "I made it clear that if [Israeli forces] go into Rafah—they haven’t gone in Rafah yet—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."

"We’re not walking away from Israel’s security," Biden added. "We’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas."

Biden also said the United States would pause the delivery of artillery shells if Israel launched an assault on Rafah.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday confirmed that "one shipment of high payload munitions" to Israel has been paused. 

"We’re going to continue to do what’s necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself," Austin said. "But that said, we are currently reviewing some near-term security assistance shipments in the context of unfolding events in Rafah."

Biden denounced anti-Semitism in his Tuesday speech honoring the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. "This hatred [of Jews] continues to lie deep in the hearts of too many people in the world and requires our continued vigilance and outspokenness," Biden said.

"Now here we are, not 75 years later, but just seven and a half months later, and people are already forgetting ... that Hamas unleashed this terror," the president added. "I have not forgotten, nor have you. And we will not forget."

Published under: Israel , Joe Biden