President Biden’s administration has used an emergency measure to allow the sale of about 14,000 tank shells to Israel without going through a congressional review process, the Pentagon said Saturday.
The State Department on Friday used an emergency measure based on an arms export law to sell tank shells worth $106.5 million, which will be immediately shipped to Israel, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The shells are part of a larger package for which President Biden’s administration is seeking approval from Congress, a development that was first reported by the Reuters news agency.
The package is worth more than $500 million and includes 45,000 shells for Israeli Merkava tanks, regularly used in Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which has killed thousands of civilians.
As the fighting intensifies, how US weapons are being used and in which areas of the conflict are being watched carefully, although US officials have said they have no plans to impose conditions on military aid to Israel or to withhold any part of the deal. her.
Human rights activists have expressed concern over the shell sale, saying the act runs counter to Washington’s efforts to pressure Israel to reduce civilian casualties.
A State Department official said Saturday that Washington continues to have clear communication with the Israeli government about respecting international humanitarian law and taking every possible step to avoid harming civilians.
The proposed package of arms sales to Israel expresses the United States’ commitment to the country’s security and to strengthening its defense capabilities, the official said.
According to the Pentagon statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken provided a detailed justification to Congress that the tank shells should be given to Israel immediately, in the interest of US national security.
The Pentagon said the sale of the missiles will have no negative impact on the United States’ readiness to defend itself.
Israeli Merkava tanks, which use 120mm shells, have been linked to incidents where journalists have also lost their lives.