Biden says US won’t supply Israel with weapons for Rafah attack

Biden says US won’t supply Israel with weapons for Rafah attack

The United States won’t supply Israel with offensive weapons for use in a ground offensive that endangers the Palestinian civilians who’ve taken shelter in the border city of Rafah, President Joe Biden has said.

Mr Biden made the declaration in an interview with CNN during a visit to Wisconsin on Wednesday, telling anchor Erin Burnett that he won’t stop the flow of defensive weapons like the interceptors used for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system even if he cuts off the flow of munitions such as the shipment of 2,000 lb bombs he acknowledged putting a hold on.

“We’re going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks that came out of the Middle East recently,” he said. “But it’s, it’s just wrong. We’re not going to – we’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells.”

Mr Biden also said he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel “is not going to get our support, if in fact they’re going to these population centres”.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers”.

But he stressed that the US commitment to Israel’s ability to defend against and respond to attacks was not in jeopardy even if he was putting some conditions on military aid.

“I made it clear that if they 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,” he said.

“We’re not walking away from Israel’s security. We’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas”.

Continuing, Mr Biden said Israel’s actions in Rafah — which thus far have been limited — haven’t crossed any red lines with him. But he did acknowledge that the offensive there has caused tension in the region.

“They haven’t gone into the population centers. What they did is right on the border. And it’s causing problems with, right now, in terms of – with Egypt, which I’ve worked very hard to make sure we have a relationship and help,” he said.

He also said he has made clear to Israel’s leaders that the US will not support an assault on Rafah’s civilian population, and said he previously warned Mr Netanyahu about an overreaction to the October 7 attacks that would repeat what he deemed as American mistakes made after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“I’ve made it clear to Bibi and the war cabinet: They’re not going to get our support, if in fact they go on these population centers,” he said.

“I said to Bibi, ‘Don’t make the same mistake we made in America. We wanted to get bin Laden. We’ll help you get Sinwar,’” he continued. “It made sense to get bin Laden; it made no sense to try and unify Afghanistan. It made no sense in my view to engage in thinking that in Iraq they had a nuclear weapon”.