A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing following Israeli bombardment of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip/Photo AFP
WASHINGTON DC: The U.S. State Department has approved the emergency sale of 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel for about $106.5 million, the Biden administration said.
The State Department said it had notified Congress of the sale late Friday after Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale” of the munitions in the U.S. national security interest.
The purchase will bypass congressional review, which is usually a requirement for foreign military sales.
The action is rare, though not unheard of, when administrations see an urgent need for weapons to be delivered without waiting for lawmakers’ approval.
At least four administrations have used the authority since 1979, according to The Associated Press.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives,” a statement issued by the State Department said.
The ammunition would come from U.S. inventory.
The sale will be from U.S. Army inventory and consist of 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer (MPAT) tank cartridges and related equipment, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The move comes as President Joe Biden’s request for a nearly $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other national security is languishing in Congress, caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border security.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation on Saturday for the United States’ veto at the U.N. Security Council, blocking a demand for a cease-fire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.
“Other countries must also understand that it’s impossible to support the elimination of Hamas on one side, and on the other to call for the end of the war, which will prevent the elimination of Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
“Therefore, Israel will continue our just war to eliminate Hamas and achieve the war’s other objectives that we set.”
Israel also said it was expanding its military operations in the southern Gaza Strip.