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US Defence Secy Austin Confirms Pause On Shipment Of "High-Payload Munitions" To Israel

07:51 AM May 09, 2024 IST | NEWS Desk
us defence secy austin confirms pause on shipment of  high payload munitions  to israel
US Defence Secy Austin Confirms Pause On Shipment Of "High-Payload Munitions" To Israel

Washington, DC [US]: Amid the ongoing ground offensive in Rafah, United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed on Wednesday that the US is pausing a shipment of "high-payload munitions" to Israel, as the operation has no plan for the residing civilians in the region, reported CNN.

"We're going to continue to do what's necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself, but that said, we are currently reviewing some near-term security assistance shipments in the context of unfolding events in Rafah," Defence Secretary Austin said at a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing.

The remarks of Austin come amid mounting airstrikes, and at a time when the Israeli Prime Minister's Office has also reaffirmed the continuation of military operations in Rafah to "exert military pressure on Hamas."

"We've been very clear ... that Israel shouldn't launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battlespace," Austin said, according to CNN.

Austin also stressed that the weapons shipment was not included in the supplemental budget package that Congress just approved, which contained lethal aid for both Israel and Ukraine.

The US has not made "a final determination" about what will happen with the arms shipment, Austin stated.

Meanwhile, protesters from Code Pink interrupted Austin in the middle of his response, shouting "Free Palestine" before they were taken from the room, as per CNN.

Further, as the military operation by Israel in Rafah continues, the United Nations on Wednesday, too, voiced alarm Wednesday over the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.
UN spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, in an operational update, according to CNN, has said that challenges persist because supplies for relief efforts are unable to pass through important crossings into the strip as fighting continues.

Dujarric further stated that it is the need of the hour for incoming supplies, including fuel, to keep coming in for sustained humanitarian efforts. He added that the situation in Gaza remains fragile as key medical facilities are at risk of becoming totally inaccessible or inoperable amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Decrying Israel's ground offensive in Rafah, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has also said that the Rafah offensive would be a "strategic mistake."

"An assault on Rafah would be a strategic mistake, a political calamity & a humanitarian nightmare," Guterres said in a video posted on X on Tuesday, as he made an appeal to the international community to help avert the ongoing conflict

"I appeal to all those with influence over Israel to do everything in their power to help avert even more tragedy," Guterres had said, adding that it is high time for a deal to be secured and bring an end to the war.

The tensions escalated with multiple airstrikes on Rafah early Tuesday, resulting in casualties and injuries, as reported by the Palestinian Civil Defence.

Palestinian official news agency WAFA confirmed eight deaths in two separate attacks on Rafah, although the precise timeline remains unclear. Rafah's Kuwait hospital reported receiving 11 deceased individuals, according to a Facebook post in the early hours of Tuesday local time.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated their ongoing targeted strikes against Hamas terror targets in eastern Rafah.

The crossing was one of the primary routes for supplies into the besieged Gaza Strip. In mid-December, Israeli authorities announced its reopening in response to rising US pressure and a severe humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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