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Biden Administration Uses Emergency Authority to Sell Tank Shells to Israel

The Biden administration has used an emergency authority to allow the sale of about 14,000 tank shells to Israel without congressional review, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

The state department on Friday used an Arms Export Control Act emergency declaration for the tank rounds worth $106.5m for immediate delivery to Israel, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The shells are part of a bigger sale that was first reported by Reuters on Friday that the Biden administration is asking the US Congress to approve. The larger package is worth more than $500m and includes 45,000 shells for Israel’s Merkava tanks, regularly deployed in its offensive in Gaza, which has killed thousands of civilians.

As the war intensified, how and where exactly the American weapons are used in the conflict has come under more scrutiny, even though US officials say there are no plans to put conditions on military aid to Israel or to consider withholding some of it.

Rights advocates expressed concern over the sale, saying it doesn’t align with Washington’s effort to press Israel to minimize civilian casualties.

A state department official said on Saturday that Washington continues to be clear with the Israeli government that it must comply with international humanitarian law and take every feasible step to avoid harm to civilians.

The proposed sale conveys the US commitment to Israel’s security and it will bolster that country’s defensive capabilities, the official said.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, determined and provided detailed justification to Congress that the tank shells must immediately be provided to Israel in the national security interests of the US, according to the Pentagon statement.

The sale will be from US army inventory and consist of 120mm M830A1 MPAT tank cartridges and related equipment.

“Israel will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense,” the Pentagon said, adding that there will be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of the sale.

Israel’s Merkava tanks, which use 120mm shells, are also linked to incidents that involved the death of journalists.

On Thursday, a Reuters investigation revealed that an Israeli tank crew killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and wounded six reporters by firing two shells in quick succession from Israel while the journalists were filming cross-border shelling.

Source: The Guardian