The Obama Administration has halted missile shipments to Israel and a huge new diplomatic row, which some officials are calling a “very serious rupture” is emerging tonight, after the Wall Street Journal revealed Israel was taking US weapons to use in Gaza without the permission of the White House.
According to US officials, the Israeli Defense Ministry was getting arms directly from the Pentagon stockpile in their country without asking either the White House or the US State Department’s permission. This was done in spite of the arms coming concurrent with direct US-Israeli talks on another $225 million in US funding for their Iron Dome system.
“We were blind-sided,” noted one US diplomatic, while others said they were particularly concerned that Israel took artillery instead of precision-guided arms to use during their bombardment of civilian areas of Gaza.
It was particularly galling that Israel took the arms without asking the White House, since the billions of dollars in annual US aid has essentially bankrolled the entire Gaza War, and having burned through all their US-provided arms and ammo, they simply went to the Pentagon warehouse and grabbed some more.
Pentagon officials are trying to downplay the incident, saying that Israel didn’t need the permission of the White House or State Department to take the arms. Whether or not that is strictly true is unclear, but doing so was clearly irksome to the administration.
In addition to stopping the shipments, the State Department announced a new “review” of all arms shipments to Israel, though they insisted the timing of this was coincidental, and was simply a function of concerns about the invasion of Gaza.