WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) — The Biden administration has used an emergency authority to allow the sale of about 14,000 tank shells to Israel without congressional review, the Pentagon said on Saturday.
The State Department on Friday used an Arms Export Control Act emergency declaration for the tank rounds worth $106.5 million for immediate delivery to Israel, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The shells are part of a bigger sale that was first reported by Reuters on Friday that the Biden administration is asking the U.S. Congress to approve. The larger package is worth more than $500 million and comprises of 45,000 shells for Israel’s Merkava tanks, regularly deployed in its offensive in Gaza, which has killed thousands of civilians.
As the war intensified, how and where exactly the U.S. weapons are used in the conflict has come under more scrutiny, even though U.S. officials say there are no plans to put conditions on military aid to Israel or to consider withholding some of it.
Rights advocates expressed concern over the sale, saying it doesn’t align with Washington’s effort to press Israel to minimize civilian casualties.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined and provided detailed justification to Congress that the tank shells must immediately be provided to Israel in the national security interests of the United States, according to the Pentagon statement.
The sale will be from U.S. Army inventory and consist of 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer (MPAT) tank cartridges and related equipment.
“Israel will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense,” the Pentagon said, adding that there will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of the sale.