Biden releases $147.5mn as arms aid for Israel

Washington, Dec 31 (IANS): US President Joe Biden has bypassed the Congress for the second time in a row this month to release $147.5 million in aid for military equipment as emergency arms sales to Israel to fight Hamas.

"The US is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to ensure Israel is able to defend itself against the threats it faces. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives," a US State Department spokesperson said.

The arms sale of $147.5 million in terms of military hardware.

It is intended to help the functionality of the US ally's previous purchase of nearly 14,000 rounds of 155mm shells in early December, media reports said even as Biden's omnibus humanitarian plus military assistance of over $105 billion hangs in the balance into the New Year.

The Congress led by the Republicans in the House blocked the aid package but agreed to release $16 billion to Israel.

"Given the urgency of Israel's defensive needs, the Secretary notified Congress that he had exercised his delegated authority to determine an emergency existed necessitating the immediate approval of the transfer," a State Department spokesperson said.

The equipment is valued at about $147.5 million and comes as Israel faces increased scrutiny over the rising number of Palestinian civilian casualties.

Israeli army tanks were deployed in southern Israel bordering the Gaza Strip on December 22 amid the on-going conflict.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is part of the Pentagon, notified Congress of the sale on Friday after Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved it.

The agency said the sale would not negatively impact US defense readiness, and 155mm shells would be drawn from army stock.

The move comes as Israel faces increasing scrutiny over its military tactics and a civilian toll that has surpassed 21,000 in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.



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Title: Biden releases $147.5mn as arms aid for Israel

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