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Netanyahu says Israel needs US ammunition in ‘war for its existence’

AFP
Friday, Jun 21, 2024

OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday the country needs ammunition from the United States in “the war for its existence”, directly addressing the White House after it criticised him for complaining about arms deliveries related to the Gaza war.

“I am prepared to suffer personal attacks provided that Israel receives the ammunition from the US that it needs in the war for its existence,” he said in a statement.

The Israeli leader´s comments came after he angered Washington with a video statement this week accusing it of “withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel”.

US officials have said they were not aware of what Netanyahu was referring to.

“Those comments were deeply disappointing and certainly vexing to us, given the amount of support that we have and will continue to provide,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists earlier on Thursday.”I think we’ve made it abundantly clear to our Israeli counterparts through various vehicles our deep disappointment in the statements expressed in that video and our concerns over the accuracy in the statements made,” Kirby said.

“The idea that we had somehow stopped helping Israel with their self-defence needs is absolutely not accurate,” he said.

Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Ron Dermer, Israel’s minister for strategic affairs, will speak with Sullivan as a larger, more formal “strategic dialogue” meeting was being rescheduled, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Blinken will meet with the Israelis at 3 pm, according to a senior State Department official.

Blinken said weapons shipments with the exception of one with large bombs were moving as usual given Israel faced security threats beyond Gaza, including from Hezbollah and Iran. He declined to comment on his private exchange with Netanyahu during a news conference on Tuesday.

The United States in May paused a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs due to concern over the impact they could have in densely populated areas but Israel was still due to get billions of dollars worth of US weaponry.

Scrutiny on Israel’s conduct in its military operation in Gaza has increased as the Palestinian death toll from the war has soared to above 37,000, according to health officials in the Hamas-run enclave and reduced Gaza to a wasteland.

Biden in April warned Israel that the US would stop supplying it weapons if Israeli forces make a major invasion of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that is the last refuge for many displaced by the war.

Washington said that there is only one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs that is under review because of concerns about their use in densely populated areas in Gaza.