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White House perplexed by Netanyahu's claims that US is withholding weapons

The White House, State Department and Pentagon say they don't know what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was talking about when he said this week that Secretary of State Antony Blinken was working to eliminate “transport bottlenecks.” “strangulation” which slows down arms shipments to Israel. But a US official offered an explanation for the Israeli leader's accusation.

Netanyahu, in a video released Tuesday, said he told Blinken that it was inconceivable that in recent months the administration had withheld weapons and ammunition from Israel.

The United States has examined a shipment of 2,000- and 500-pound bombs since May. As Israel prepared for a major offensive in Rafah, the Biden administration suspended shipping because, as President Biden said in an interview last month, “civilians have been killed in Gaza because of these bombs.”

“I am not providing the weapons that were historically used to confront Rafah,” Mr. Biden said. However, the administration said the United States would continue to support the Iron Dome, the system that protects Israel from rocket fire, and ensures that Israel is able to “respond to attacks” from the Middle East. The Pentagon says the United States continued to send weapons to Israel in the weeks that followed.

According to the U.S. official, Netanyahu's remarks in the video are apparently based on IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi's belief that the United States is slowing down Israel on lesser items like aircraft spare parts. However, the official insists that there were no such delays, with the exception of the dispatch of 2,000-pound bombs, which were about to leave by ship from a depot East Coast weapons when delivery was interrupted in early May. They were about to leave an East Coast arms depot by boat when the delivery was interrupted. Israel does not need it for Gaza, but it would need it if the conflict in Lebanon escalates further.

However, the official also said, “The Israelis are not close to achieving their goal of destroying Hamas” in the war that began with Hamas' arrival. October 7 Massacre in the south of Israel, more than a thousand Israelis. Hundreds of fighters and miles of unexplored tunnels remain, and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar remains at large, the official said. Given that Israel has no plan “for tomorrow,” the current strategy is “a recipe for continued war,” the official said.

Netanyahu's claims about delays in US arms deliveries come as fighting intensifies between Israel and Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border. Israel and the Iran-backed group have exchanged fire since October, but attacks from both sides have increased in recent weeks and threaten to open a broader regional war that the Biden administration has been trying to avoid for months. This official estimates that an Israeli decision on whether or not to enter Lebanon will come at the end of July.

John Kirby, White House national security communications adviser, told reporters Thursday that the administration was not aware of Netanyahu's video in advance and called it “confusing” and “disappointing “.

“No other country has done, and will continue to do more than the United States, to help Israel defend itself,” Kirby said.

In a statement released by his office on Thursday, Netanyahu said: “I am prepared to suffer personal attacks on the condition that Israel receives from the United States the ammunition it needs in the war for its existence.”

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