Israel asks US for more ammunition as tension with Iran rises

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Israel is asking the US for more tank ammunition and tactical vehicles, three people familiar with the matter said, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government looks to replenish its stockpiles amid the war in Gaza and increasing tensions with Iran.

The people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations, said the request had only just been submitted and the administration had yet to begin a formal evaluation.

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The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the administration was weighing the request for $1 billion in 120mm tank ammunition, vehicles and mortar rounds.

The State Department and the National Security Council declined to comment.

Any such request will again put the Biden administration in a delicate position. President Joe Biden has said US support for Israel’s defense is “ironclad” in the wake of the October 7 attack by Hamas that killed some 1,200 people and saw about 240 people taken hostage.

At the same time, he’s been criticized for failing to blunt the severity of Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza, which has killed at least 30,000 people.

Israel’s needs became even more acute on April 13, when its air defenses — with help from the US, the UK and others — repelled a barrage of some 300 drones and missiles fired by Iran.

That prompted fears of a tit-for-tat escalation and fanned concerns of a wider war. On Thursday night, Israel struck back in a limited drone operation, according to two US officials.

The latest request is separate from the $95 billion funding supplemental request that Congress appears set to pass this weekend providing military aid to Israel and Ukraine.

One of the officials said the US hasn’t begun the review process, which would take many months in any case and doesn’t guarantee a sale.

Tank ammunition would account for most of the sale, with Oshkosh Corp.’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles the second largest chunk, one of the officials said.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, has pressed Biden to withhold offensive military aid, including bombs, until Israel allows humanitarian aid to flow without restriction.

Van Hollen has urged Biden to enforce the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits assistance to countries that restrict “directly or indirectly” the delivery of US humanitarian assistance unless the president determines doing so is in the national security interest of the US.

The new request is also separate from an earlier one to sell Israel more than 1,000 MK-82 500-pound bombs and more than 1,000 250-pound Small Diameter Bombs and fuses for other munitions still pending congressional approval.

These pending munitions sales if approved and put on contract wouldn’t be delivered until 2025.

Read more:

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Israel’s Iran attack carefully calibrated after internal splits, US pressure

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