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House Democrats push back on Israel arms pause

A group of 26 House Democrats are pushing back on President Biden’s decision this week to halt the sending of heavy bombs to Israel amid fears of an Israeli invasion into Rafah, which is home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced amid the war in Gaza.

“We are deeply concerned about the message the Administration is sending to Hamas and other Iranian-backed terrorist proxies by withholding weapons shipments to Israel, during a critical moment in the negotiations,” reads the letter, which is addressed to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

The letter comes the same day that the latest round of cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas — brokered by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt — ended without a deal. Israel wants Hamas to release some 130 remaining hostages taken during its Oct. 7 attack, in exchange for an extended pause in fighting.

The letter, signed by House Democrats, including Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Jared Golden (Maine), Haley Stevens (Mich.) and Steven Horsford (Nev.), follows the Biden administration announcing this week that it was holding back a planned shipment of some 3,500 bombs, which includes heavy 2,000-pound versions along with the lighter 500-pound munitions.

Biden also warned earlier this week that he would stop giving offensive weapons, such as bombs and artillery shells, to Israel if its forces begin an invasion in Rafah.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden said Wednesday to CNN’s Erin Burnett.

“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,” Biden added.

The letter from House Democrats said that “seven months after October 7, the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the end of the Holocaust, Iranian-backed terrorist proxies continue to fire rockets and mortars into Israel and at Americans from all directions.”

“At the same time, antisemitism is spreading globally like wildfire,” the letter continues. “We fear that public disputes with our critical ally only emboldens our mutual enemies, including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and other Iranian-backed proxies. It also buttresses their agenda of chaos, brutality, and hate, and makes a hostage agreement even harder to achieve.”

When reached for comment, the White House pointed The Hill to remarks made by national security spokesperson John Kirby Thursday, when he said “smashing into Rafah, in [Biden’s] view, will not advance that objective” of Israel defeating Hamas.

Source: The Hill

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