US resumes supply of Hellfire missiles to Israel

Tank rounds and other weapon deliveries had also been temporarily halted by review process

Illustrative photo of Hellfire missiles (photo credit: CC BY-Wikipedia)
Illustrative photo of Hellfire missiles (photo credit: CC BY-Wikipedia)

The US has now supplied some of the Hellfire missiles that Israel requested in the course of the conflict with Hamas this summer, and more are on the way, The Times of Israel has learned.

Washington had halted a transfer of the missiles in mid-August, with the State Department saying that weapons shipments to Israel would be undergoing additional review due to the war in Gaza.

Supplies of ammunition used by Israeli tanks were also affected by the review procedures, but those and other affected supplies have also now been resumed.

The military supplies, including the Hellfire precision air-to-surface missiles, were not urgently needed for battlefield use, The Times of Israel understands.

There was no formal confirmation that Hellfires had been delivered.

The US government is further said to have made clear to its Israeli counterparts that the review process was not a signal of disapproval, confirming a report on Israel’s Channel 10 news last month that quoted a senior Israeli official as saying Israel had been assured that the suspension of the supplies “was just bureaucracy.”

The news came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to the US Sunday to address the UN General Assembly on Monday, and to meet with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

The decision to hold off on the transfer of the missiles has been widely seen as a consequence of increased diplomatic tension between Washington and Jerusalem, as noted in a Wall Street Journal report in mid-August that broke the news of the suspension.

The State Department subsequently said that weapons shipments to Israel would be undergoing additional review due to the war in Gaza. Spokeswoman Marie Harf described an inter-agency process, including the Pentagon, White House and State Department, to review such transfers, and said that she “would disagree” with the report in the Journal that said that the State Department and White House were “surprised” that the Pentagon continued to provide weapons to Israel.

“There has been no change in policy” regarding Israel’s security assistance, Harf insisted. She added, however, that given the situation, it was natural that there would be “additional care” taken in the review process. She emphasized that “additional steps” were not tantamount to an official “review” of US military aid for Israel.

“It’s not an unusual step,” Harf said. “The general principle is that when there is an ongoing crisis or conflict in which we are providing weapons, we would take an additional look at it,” she said.

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