Israel’s Defense Minister Flies to U.S. to Get Weapons White House Says Aren’t Being Withheld

Yoav Gallant (Shachar Yuman / IDoD)
Shachar Yuman / IDoD

Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant left Israel on Saturday night to convince the Biden administration to release the shipments of arms and ammunition that Israel says it needs and the White House has claimed it is not withholding.

For months, there had been rumors that the U.S. had been slowing down shipments of weapons that Israel needs — not only for its war against Hamas in Gaza, but for a potential war against Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon as well.

President Joe Biden confirmed that the U.S. was withholding weapons in May — specifically, heavy precision bombs, which he said Israel should not be able to use in its attack on Hamas battalions in Rafah, out of concern for civilans.

Biden said he would hold back on other weapons as well, including artillery rounds. But amid growing controversy, the White House insisted that only one shipment of heavy bombs had been withheld, largely as a symbolic gesture.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the unusual step of publicly and directly criticizing the Biden administration in a video in which he asked it to stop withholding weapons Israel needed in a “war of survival.”

The White House said it did not know what he was talking about, and publicly criticized him. But several Republican senators confirmed that the White House had been using bureaucratic tricks to avoid shipping approved weapons.

On Saturday night, Gallant left for the U.S. — at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin — to discuss the war. The Times of Israel reported that the main purpose of the visit, in fact, was to discuss the delayed weapons:

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant headed to Washington, DC, on Sunday for a whirlwind visit whose main aim was to get the United States to unfreeze a shipment of heavy-duty bombs it has been withholding from Israel.

Gallant was set to discuss a range of issues besides the arms shipment, including other weapons the Israeli military needs, as well as the war in Gaza and the threats Israel is facing from Lebanon and Iran.


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