May 8, 2024 | Flash Brief

Reports Claim U.S. Delaying Munitions to Send Message to Israel

May 8, 2024 | Flash Brief

Reports Claim U.S. Delaying Munitions to Send Message to Israel

Latest Developments

The Biden administration is pausing shipments of offensive weapons to Israel due to its objections to military operations in Rafah, senior U.S. officials told journalists on May 7. The officials said that the shipments that the administration put on hold included 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs. “We’ve been very clear … from the very beginning that Israel shouldn’t launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battlespace. And again, as we have assessed the situation, we have paused one shipment of high payload munitions,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a May 8 Senate hearing. “We’ve not made a final determination on how to proceed with that shipment.”

Additionally, Politico reported earlier that day that the United States is delaying the shipment of small-diameter bombs and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) kits to convert the bombs into guided munitions. The report cited one U.S. official and six other people with knowledge of the administration’s deliberations. According to The Wall Street Journal, the administration approved a sale of up to 6,500 JDAM kits but did not formally notify Congress, effectively stalling the deal.

Expert Analysis

“The Biden administration is making a disturbing, counter-productive, and short-sighted mistake. Purposefully delaying the delivery to Israel of some of the means of self-defense after October 7 undermines U.S. interests, empowers Hamas, extends the conflict in Gaza, prolongs the nightmare for the hostages, and emboldens Hezbollah. This is not how a friend treats another friend in a moment of need and vulnerability. By the way, precision-guided munitions help the IDF avoid civilian casualties, a goal that Hamas obviously does not share with Israel.”Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“The White House should not be holding back military assistance from a democratic ally in a war for its survival — particularly after Congress voted overwhelmingly to appropriate billions to provide more aid. Pressuring Israel like this will only embolden Iran and its terror proxies, including Hamas.”Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Leahy Law Reporting Requirements

The news comes shortly before the State Department is due to report to Congress on May 8 on whether Israel’s military has violated the Leahy Law, which restricts funding to foreign militaries deemed guilty of human rights abuses. However, the State Department reportedly notified lawmakers on May 7 that it will likely miss the submission deadline.

The report will include an assessment of whether nations that receive U.S. military aid, including Israel, use the assistance in accordance with “established best practices for mitigating civilian harm” established by the U.S. military. It will also examine whether the recipient country is fully cooperating with U.S. or U.S.-sponsored efforts to provide humanitarian assistance in the area where the provided weapons are being used.

Previous Unconfirmed Reports of Delays

Even before reports about the munitions holdup emerged, Congress had already begun expressing anger at the administration’s apparent munitions restrictions on Israel. On May 7, Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Ted Budd (R-NC) sent a letter to the White House asking what munitions the administration is withholding from Israel, alleging that the president failed to notify Congress of the decision.

The letter was in response to leaked information reported by Axios on May 5 that the administration held up a shipment of U.S.-manufactured ammunition to Israel. Democrats in Congress reportedly withheld the sale of F-15s to Israel in February, but this latest delayed shipment comes soon after Congress overwhelmingly passed and President Joe Biden signed into law a foreign aid package to Israel on April 24 that also included aid to Ukraine and Taiwan.

How to Ensure Israel Has the Weapons It Needs,” by Bradley Bowman and Richard Golberg

Explaining the moral case for backing Israel may help Biden in Nov. elections,” by Enia Krivine

Biden may be holding up ammo to Israel — Congress must stop him,” by Richard Goldberg

What the World Central Kitchen Strike Tells Us About Israel — And Its Enemies,” by Bradley Bowman and Mike Daum


Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy