Northern Ireland

Biden ‘sick’ £1 billion package to bomb Gaza

After pausing the supply of 3,500 bombs the White House is set to resume weaponry shipments

Displaced Palestinians arrive in central Gaza after fleeing from Rafah (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)
Displaced Palestinians arrive in central Gaza after fleeing from Rafah. PICTURE ABDEL KAREEM/AP (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)

The Biden administration’s latest one billion dollar consignment of arms and ammunition to be deployed in the bombardment of Gaza has been branded “sick”.

News of a fresh tranche of weaponry has prompted urgent calls for the both UK and US to end the supply of arms to Israel, with SDLP leader Colum Eastwood saying there is “no moral justification for fuelling the war machine”.

Alliance MP Stephen Farry accused the White House of “sending terrible mixed messages” to Benjamin Netanyahu, while Sinn Féin’s Pat Sheehan said world leaders had to choose whether to “stand by international law, human rights and justice or stand with Israeli barbarism”.

People Before Profit’s Gerry Carroll said it appeared there was “no amount of human slaughter that the Biden administration is unwilling to fund in Gaza”.

It emerged on Tuesday that the US was planning its first arms shipment to Israel since it put another arms transfer — consisting of 3,500 bombs — on hold earlier this month.

The administration has said it paused that earlier transfer to keep Israel from using the bombs in its growing offensive in the crowded southern Gaza city of Rafah.

The UN has said that almost 450,000 Palestinians have fled from southern Gaza city amid an assault by Israeli tanks.

Joe Biden said the US would not provide offensive weapons for Israel’s long-promised assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah (AP)

More than 35,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October, including 82 in the 24 hours of Monday.

Taoiseach Simon Harris yesterday spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan to discuss what was described as “the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza”.

Mr Harris also updated the King on Ireland’s plan to recognise the state of Palestine, outlining Ireland and Spain’s ongoing efforts on Palestinian recognition along with other like-minded countries.

According to US congressional aides who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, the package being sent to Israel includes about US$700m (£556m) for tank ammunition, US$500m (£397m) in tactical vehicles, and US$60m (£47m) in mortar rounds.

There was no immediate indication of when the arms would be sent. Israel is now seven months into its war in Gaza after Hamas invaded Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage.

Republicans in the US are seeking to advance a bill to mandate the delivery of offensive weaponry for Israel.

The White House said on Tuesday that the president would veto the bill if it were to pass Congress, however, Democrats are divided on the issue, with around two dozen signing a letter saying they were “deeply concerned about the message” sent by pausing the bomb shipment.

Sinn Féin MLA Past Sheehan called an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire” and an end to military arms sales to Israel.

“Israeli forces must withdraw and humanitarian aid must be delivered without interference,” he said.

“World leaders face a choice: stand by international law, human rights and justice or stand with Israeli barbarism.”

North Down MP Stephen Farry said there was an urgent need for all states, including both the UK and USA, to “end all arms sales to Israel”.

“Both governments in different ways are deliberating equivocating on the nature and scale of Israel’s ongoing and obvious large scale and blatant breaches of international humanitarian law,” the Alliance deputy leader said.

“The Biden administration is sending terrible mixed messages and needs to come out firmly for an immediate ceasefire and a renewed long term peace process.”

Colum Eastwood described the latest package as “genocidal aid”.

“Benjamin Netanyahu will use deadly arms and ammunition supplied by the US to rain hell on hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Gaza whose homes, communities and families have already been destroyed,” the Foyle MP said.

“As the situation in Rafah continues to deteriorate, there is no moral justification for fuelling the war machine to crush more innocent lives – it is sick.”

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said “apartheid Israel” was committing war crimes “with a blank chequebook from the US government”.

“It appears there is no amount of human slaughter that the Biden administration is unwilling to fund in Gaza.

“The ongoing assault on Rafah is a new dark chapter in Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinian people – it has further denied food, water and medical aid to a displaced population which it keeps under constant bombardment and hail of bullets.