According to YNet News, the Obama administration has halted shipment of Hellfire anti-armor missiles to Israel.
The administration blames the decision on Israel:
The Journal reports Israel requested money for more Iron Dome interceptors from the US Defense Department mere days after the ground incursion into Gaza began. While Israeli officials told the Americans Israel had enough interceptors for the current Gaza operation, they said it wanted to replenish its stocks.
According to the Journal, the Obama administration, with Israel’s consent, decided not to seek emergency funding, and instead hold the Congress vote on the $225 million military aid proposal in the fall.
While the White House had no qualms about supplying Israel with the defensive, non-lethal Iron Dome interceptors, the Journal reports Israel took another route to secure $3 million worth of lethal munitions, including 120-mm mortar shells and 40-mm illuminating rounds.
The request, made by Israel’s Defense Ministry to the US military, was approved without needing or seeking the approval of President Barack Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry, officials told the Journal. At the same time, the standard review process was properly followed.
After the shipment of the 120-mm and 40-mm rounds caught the White House by surprise, the Pentagon was instructed to put another arms shipment to Israel – a large number of Hellfire missiles – on halt and the administration instructed all of its defense agencies to consult with the White House and State Department before approving any additional arms requests from Israel, the Journal reported.
The halt puts future shipment approvals high up in the administration, with the president and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Both Obama’s and Kerry’s relations with Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are severely strained. Hamas, a terrorist group according to the US government, started the war and has broken several cease-fires, yet US policy under Obama has not been to give Israel the benefit of the doubt. Kerry drew criticism in Israel in June when he attempted to broker a cease-fire with Hamas patrons Qatar and Turkey, while ignoring a better cease-fire offered by Egypt, which would have marginalized Hamas.
Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu has never been good. Obama and the Israeli PM are reported to have had a “particularly combative” phone call over Israel’s operations against Hamas just yesterday.