U.S. To Israel Missile Request: Not So Fast (Update)

Officials in the White House and the State Department are now demanding to review every Israeli request for American arms individually.

UPDATED: Ah, so here's the rest of the story:

JERUSALEM—White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.

Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.

The munitions surprise and previously unreported U.S. response added to a string of slights and arguments that have bubbled behind the scenes during the Gaza conflict, according to events related by senior American, Palestinian and Israeli officials involved.

This is noteworthy. I don't remember anything like this before:

The White House has instructed the Pentagon and the U.S. military to put on hold a transfer of Hellfire missiles that Israel had requested during its recent operation in the Gaza Strip, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the report, during Israel's Operation Protective Edge, White House officials were dismayed to discover how little influence they wield over the topic of Israeli arms shipments, against the backdrop of the U.S. government's unhappiness with the widespread damage inflicted upon Palestinian civilians.

During the Gaza war, the report said, White House officials came to realize that large amounts of weaponry are being passed to Israel via direct channels to the Pentagon, with little oversight by the political arena.

In light of that, and against the backdrop of American displeasure over IDF tactics used in the Gaza fighting and the high number of civilian casualties caused by Israel's massive use of artillery fire rather than more precise weapons, officials in the White House and the State Department are now demanding to review every Israeli request for American arms individually, rather than let them move relatively unchecked through a direct military-to-military channel, a fact that slows down the process.


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According to a senior U.S. official, the decision to tighten oversight and require approval of higher-ranking officials over shipments, was intended to make clear to Israel that there is no "blank check" from Washington in regards to the U.S.-made weapons the IDF makes use of in its Gaza operations.

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