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Biden Says the U.S. Will Not Supply Israel With Weapons to Attack Rafah

USBiden Says the U.S. Will Not Supply Israel With Weapons to Attack Rafah

President Biden acknowledged on Wednesday that Israel had used American bombs to kill civilians in Gaza and warned that he would not supply artillery shells and other weapons if Israel moved forward with a long-threatened ground offensive in southern Gaza.

In an interview with CNN, Mr. Biden said the United States would still ensure Israel’s defenses, including the Iron Dome. But he said he would block the delivery of weapons that could be fired into the urban areas of Rafah if the assault goes forward.

“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,” he said.

He added: “But it’s just wrong. We’re not going to — we’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used that have been used.”

Mr. Biden’s remarks underscore the growing rift between the United States and its closest Middle East ally over the war in Gaza, which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Mr. Biden already halted the shipment of 3,500 bombs last week out of concern that they might be used in a major assault on Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians have taken refuge. It was the first time since the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack on Israel that Mr. Biden has used his leverage over Israel’s weapons to try to influence how the war is waged.

Asked on Wednesday whether 2,000-pound American bombs had been used to kill civilians in Gaza, Mr. Biden said: “Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers.”

The United States is by far the biggest supplier of weapons to Israel, and it accelerated deliveries after the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks.

Mr. Biden said he did not consider Israel’s strikes in Rafah to date to qualify as a full-scale invasion because they have not struck “population centers.”

But he said he considered them to be “right on the border.”

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