Israel shells Rafah as Biden warns against major ground offensive

This is Joe Biden’s first public warning that the US is prepared to cut off further weapons supplies to Israel in the event of a full-scale assault into the city of Rafah.

He said he’d already spoken to the Israeli prime minister.

“I’ve made it clear to Bibi [Netanyahu] and the war cabinet, they’re not going to get our support if in fact they go into these population centres. We’re not walking away from Israel’s security, we’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas.”

It amounts to a significant moment, with the White House now prepared to cross the threshold of holding back at least some arms supplies – the bedrock of the US-Israel relationship.

An official told the BBC that the administration last week paused one arms shipment that included a batch of 2,000 pound bombs – one of the most destructive munitions in Israel’s arsenal.

Republicans have castigated the president, accusing him of – in effect – appeasing Hamas and loosening his so-called ironclad support for Israel.

But Biden has been under growing pressure due to the catastrophically high civilian killings, while concerns continue to grow about another downward spiral in the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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