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Merkley reacts to Biden’s choice not to send weapons if Israel enters Rafah

Author: Megan Lebowitz and Caryn Littler (NBC News)

WASHINGTON (NBC News) – Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is reacting Thursday to President Biden’s decision not to send weapons to Israel if its military invades Rafah.

According to the senator, those weapons include bombs and artillery shells.    

President Biden’s recent pause on the shipment of 500- and 2,000-pound bombs is the right decision. The president is also right to express concern about how these offensive weapons are being used in Gaza as the Israeli government’s campaign has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, including 24,000 women and children.

As NBC News reports, Rafah is a city in southern Gaza where more than 1 million people are sheltering and the move to stop supplying weapons would mark a shift in U.S. policy toward the war. Although Biden did say the U.S. would “continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks.”

Biden also said Israel has used the 2,000-pound bombs, the type his administration halted in a planned shipment last week, to kill Palestinian civilians.

“This ‘indiscriminate bombing’—as President Biden himself has called it—is at odds with our American values and American law,” Senator Merkley said. “It is being carried out in a manner that is not targeted at Hamas and is harming civilians on a massive scale. America, as a close partner and ally of Israel, must not continue to support that campaign.”

An Israeli official told NBC News there was deep frustration in the Israeli government over the decision as Israel’s military prepares to launch an expected ground offensive in Rafah.

Israel demands that Rafah be walled off from a cease-fire deal, according to four current and one former U.S. officials familiar with the discussions.

As NBC News reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government refuses to agree to a deal with Hamas unless it can move forward with military operations in Rafah, even during a cease-fire, the officials said.

An Israeli official denied that characterization, citing recent remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who said, “this operation will continue until we eliminate Hamas in the Rafah area and the entire Gaza Strip or until the first hostage returns.”

Senator Merkley expressed his shock by the Hamas attack on October 7, saying he fully supports “Israel’s right to go after Hamas. I also fully support a ceasefire that achieves lasting peace, the release of all hostages, and the opportunity to deliver massive amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. But, as long as Israel plans to use American weapons in a fashion that produces high levels of civilian casualties, the U.S. should refuse to resupply those offensive weapons.”

Read the Original Article here.

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