Israel said to complain of slowdown in US arms deliveries amid growing rift

US officials deny assertion by senior Israeli source that frequency of shipments slowed since start of war, say there’s no deliberate delay and policies remain unchanged

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

An Israeli fighter jet releases flares as it flies over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
File: An Israeli fighter jet releases flares as it flies over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Dec. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The United States has slowed the pace of its military aid to Israel compared to the beginning of the war, according to a report quoting an Israeli official Friday that American officials denied.

As ties between the Biden administration and Israel become increasingly strained over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the unnamed senior Israeli official told ABC News that supply shipments “were coming very fast” when the war erupted after Hamas’s October 7 attack, but “we are now finding that it’s very slow.”

The official said Israel was running out of 155 mm artillery shells and 120 mm tank shells. The official also said that it required sensitive guidance equipment, without elaborating.

According to the official, it was not clear what was causing the slowdown.

The Israel Defense Forces refused to comment on the report.

US officials told the network that there was no deliberate delay in aid shipments and that no policies have changed.

Both Israeli and US officials acknowledged American frustrations with the war and the mounting death toll in Gaza, the report said, but US sources said the White House has not signed off on any decision to leverage military support to pressure Israel to do more to protect civilians.

Damaged and destroyed buildings are seen through the window of an airplane from the US Air Force overflying the Gaza Strip, March 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

US officials said that rather than a slowdown, the administration was considering increasing aid to encourage Israel to do more to prevent innocent deaths.

“I’m not gonna get into the timeline for every individual system that’s being provided,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told ABC when asked for comment. “We continue to support Israel with their self-defense needs. That’s not going to change, and we have been very, very direct about that.”

US officials told Politico earlier in the week that US President Joe Biden would consider placing conditions on future military aid to Israel if its military moves ahead with a planned offensive against the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday appeared to deny the report that Biden was mulling such a measure.

“We’re not going to engage in hypotheticals about what comes down the line, and the reports that purport to describe the president’s thinking are uninformed speculation,” Sullivan said, adding that the policy to date has been against restricting Israel’s aid.

Gaps continued to grow in Israel-US ties this week, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday calling for Israel to hold new elections, saying he believed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “lost his way” and was an obstacle to peace in the region.

In response to the speech, Netanyahu’s Likud party laid into the senator, saying “Israel is an independent and proud democracy that elected Prime Minister Netanyahu, not a banana republic.”

Minister Benny Gantz said Schumer’s comments were inappropriate. Opposition Leader Yair Lapid saw it as further proof of a growing rift under Netanyahu in the relations between Israel and the US.

File: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, March 12, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Biden later said Schumer made a “good speech,” and “expressed serious concerns, shared not only by him but by many Americans.”

Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Jewish official in US history, is a longtime pro-Israel stalwart in the Democratic Party, though he has become more critical of Jerusalem’s policies as the country has moved rightward and as he has risen to the leadership of a party that has moved to the left.

War erupted in Israel on October 7 when Hamas led a devastating attack on Israel in which 1,200 people were murdered, most of them civilians. The terrorists also abducted 253 people of all ages who were taken as hostages to Gaza.

Israel responded with a military offensive to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza, destroy the terror group and free the hostages, over half of whom remain in captivity.

Jacob Magid and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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