The Pentagon urged it to halt plans to supply artillery materials to Israel

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A group of civil society groups urged the Biden administration on Monday to forgo providing artillery shells to Israel, highlighting the heightened pressure on the United States over its support for Israel’s campaign. -against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, more than 30 US-based advocacy, advocacy and faith-based groups including Oxfam America, Amnesty International and the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) expressed fears about a plan the Pentagon to provide 155mm to the Israel Defense Forces. military weapons from a special collection of American weapons in that country.

“Under the current circumstances, giving the Israeli government access to these weapons undermines the protection of civilians, respect for international humanitarian law. [IHL]and the credibility of the Biden administration,” the groups wrote in their letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Post. “Simply put, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where high-explosive 155mm artillery shells could be used in Gaza a according to IHL.”

The letter reflects growing public concern about Israel’s military operation to destroy Hamas, whose militants killed more than 1,000 Israelis and took more than 200 hostages in their attack on 7 October, and America’s role in supporting that initiative. Palestinian authorities say at least 11,000 have died in the densely populated Gaza Strip as part of Israel’s response to that attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended his government’s conduct, saying Israel is taking steps to protect civilians but must eliminate the group to ensure that Hamas cannot carry out similar attacks in the future. As the campaign continues, strikes on medical facilities and other civilian sites are generating global outrage.

The US is being warned about its global standing as Gaza’s suffering continues

Since October 7, the Biden administration has cut military aid to Israel, a key regional ally that has been the largest recipient of annual US military aid for decades, and sent two US aircraft carriers to the area in an attempt to prevent the conflict. constantly growing. Military support provided since the attack under Washington’s direct commercial sales program includes small-diameter bombs, kits to make precision-guided munitions and other weapons.

Officials have also said they would provide 155mm artillery shells from Israel’s War Reserve Stockpile, which is designed to provide a ready supply of ammunition to the US military in the region and also to enable Washington forces Israel to arm quickly. Previously, the Biden administration has tapped that reserve to replenish American stocks in Europe, under pressure because of the war in Ukraine.

It was not immediately clear whether 155mm shells had already been supplied from that reserve to Israel. The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on that question.

The administration has said it expects Israel to conduct its campaign in accordance with international standards and take reasonable steps to protect civilians from harm. But he is facing increasing scrutiny, including from within the president’s own party.

A group of 26 Democratic senators last week appealed to President Biden seeking assurances that US support was bolstered by a coherent strategy and says that future aid should depend on factors including Israel’s protection of civilians. Leading Democrats are also pushing Biden for more clarity on what aid is being given to Israel, which has been shrouded in more secrecy than aid to Ukraine.

Biden’s secrecy about military transfers to Israel is unsettling some Democrats

In their letter to Austin, the groups referred to the humanitarian situation that had deteriorated significantly in Gaza, where residents have been struggling to access food, water and electricity. Israel has allowed local pauses in its operations to allow residents to move but has rejected calls for a ceasefire unless all hostages are released.

The groups also referred to the US government’s agreement to a 2022 international declaration aimed at limiting the use of explosive weapons in urban areas, and pointed out that Israel fired tens of thousands of artillery shells during the conflict. left with Hamas in 2008-2009 and 2014.

“These weapons have struck schools, neighborhoods, hospitals, shelters, and refugee camps, killing, wounding, and maiming dozens of civilians,” the groups wrote. ‘ went to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza raising our concerns.”

The Biden administration is seeking approval from Congress to provide $14 billion in additional military aid to Israeli forces and replenish American weapons that were given to them in recent weeks.

Israel-Gaza war

Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, is “not functioning” after days without power, water or reliable internet, the World Health Organization said. Understand what is behind the Israel-Gaza war.

Hosts: Officials say Hamas terrorists kidnapped about 239 hostages in a coordinated attack. Four hostages have been released – two Americans and two Israelis – while families are holding out hope. One Israeli hostage who was released reported on the “spider web” of the Gaza tunnels she was in.

Humanitarian aid: The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it has received more than 370 trucks with food, medicine and water in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing in Egypt. However, the PRCS said, there has not yet been permission to import fuel to power hospitals, water pumps, taxis and more.

Conflict between Israel and Palestine: The Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has a complicated history, and its rulers have been at odds with the Palestinian Authority, the US-backed government in the United States. West Bank. Here is a timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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