Biden Under Scrutiny for Supplying Tank Shells to Israel Without Congress' Approval
By Jace Dela Cruz
Dec 11, 2023 12:08 AM EST
Dec 11, 2023 12:08 AM EST
The Biden administration is facing heightened scrutiny for supplying tank shells to Israel without obtaining congressional approval.
Using an emergency authority to allow the sale of about 14,000 tank shells to Israel without congressional review raised concerns about ethical considerations and adherence to established guidelines in arms transfers, according to reports by The Guardian and CNBC.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's invoking of emergency powers reportedly waived the requirement to consult Congress under the Arms Export Control Act.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Pentagon said the State Department made the emergency declaration for immediate delivery of tank rounds worth $106.5 million to Israel.
The shells are reportedly part of a larger sale that the Biden administration asked Congress to approve. The bigger package is worth over $500 million and comprises 45,000 shells for Israel's Merkava tanks, which were deployed in its offensive in Gaza on a regular basis.
CNBC reported that the sale will come from the US Army inventory, consisting of 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer (MPAT) tank cartridges and related equipment.
Unnamed officials told the Washington Post that the emergency powers invoked by Blinken raised questions about adherence to guidelines established by President Joe Biden in February that require all arms transfers to foreign governments be subject to extensive and continual examination of the recipient's record on the Geneva conventions and other global protocols for conducting warfare.
The unnamed officials claimed that the US is not conducting real-time assessments of Israel's adherence to the laws of war, citing a lack of access to Israel Defense Forces' intelligence and information about the commanders' intentions.
The Biden administration's decision to bypass Congress has drawn criticism, particularly from US allies in the region and progressive voters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thanked Joe Biden for the UN Security Council veto and the arms supplies. Netanyahu said on Sunday that "an additional shipment of important ammunition for continuing the war will arrive today. In effect, it is already here."
Israeli tanks reportedly advanced into Khan Younis on Sunday after fighting through stiff resistance in the southern city crowded with civilians who fled from the north. The death toll in Gaza has risen, nearing 18,000 Palestinians with 49,500 injured since the conflict began on October 7, as per the Gaza health ministry.
Israeli abuses, including the public release of near-naked detainees' images, further intensify global concerns. Despite the heavy civilian toll in Gaza, the US remains a key supporter of Israel. The Biden administration's veto to block the UN's effort to impose a ceasefire and the ongoing arms supplies have heightened tensions.
As the conflict continues and the death toll rises, the Biden administration faces increasing scrutiny for its support of Israel, with questions about the ethical considerations and adherence to established guidelines in arms transfers.
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