US restocks Israel with ammunition

Washington - The United States confirmed on Wednesday it had restocked Israel's supplies of ammunition, hours after finally sharpening its tone to condemn an attack on a United Nations school in Gaza.

But while both the White House and the state department condemned the shelling of the UN-run school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza in which at least 16 Palestinians were killed, neither would assign blame to staunch US ally Israel.

"Obviously nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians seeking shelter in a UN facility," deputy state department spokesperson Marie Harf acknowledged, in some of the toughest US comments since the start of the 23-day fighting in the Gaza Strip.


"Innocent Palestinians seeking refuge in these schools should not have shells dropped on them, should not come under attack."

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said Israeli forces had hit the school, which had been sheltering some 3 300 Gazans.

But despite heated exchanges with reporters, Harf stressed that "we don't know for certain who shelled this school, we need to get all the facts."

National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan also condemned "those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza" and warned of rising fears that thousands of Palestinians who have been told by Israel to leave their homes increasingly had nowhere to go in the blockaded narrow coastal strip.

US officials also warned that patience with "crazy" Israeli criticism of would-be-peacemaker John Kerry had snapped.

New ammunition for Israel

The Pentagon confirmed the Israeli military had requested additional ammunition to restock its dwindling supplies on 20 July, with the US defence department approving the sale just three days later.

"The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defence capability," Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

"This defence sale is consistent with those objectives."

Two of the requested munitions came from a little-known stockpile of ammunition stored by the US military on the ground in Israel for emergency use by the Jewish state. The War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel is estimated to be worth $1bn.

The decision to provide ammunition to Israel could fuel controversy, coming just as Washington expresses growing concern about the deaths of more than 1 300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, since the Israeli operation began on 8 July.

Kirby said Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel told his Israeli counterpart that the United States was concerned about the deadly consequences of the spiralling conflict, including a "worsening humanitarian situation" in Gaza, and called for a ceasefire and end to hostilities.

He also renewed calls for the disarmament of Gaza's Hamas rulers and "all terrorist groups."

Tense relations

Relations between Israel and its staunch ally the United States have plunged in recent days after Kerry returned from a mission to the Middle East to try to broker a ceasefire between the Israelis and Hamas militants.

Anonymous Israeli officials have hit out at Kerry's truce proposal, calling it "a strategic terrorist attack" and criticising it for being a "Hamas wish-list" including moves to lift a long-standing Israeli blockade of Gaza while failing to address Israel's security concerns, such as Hamas rocket fire and a network of underground tunnels.

And on Tuesday a fabricated transcript of a call between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went viral on social media.

Stressing the "unprecedented" US support for the Jewish state, Harf hit out at Israeli elites' "offensive and absurd" claims that Kerry backs Hamas.

She rubbished the fake transcript as "complete crap", adding "there's clearly people... who are putting out false and defamatory and absurd information".

"I don't know what else you can assume about the intentions except that they're designed to hurt our relationship," she added.

Iron Dome shield

Washington, which has provided billions in military aid to Israel, including funding the Iron Dome shield protecting the country from Hamas rockets, was "very committed" to the security of the Jewish state, which is "why these vicious attacks on the secretary are just crazy", she added.

And US lawmakers are working on a package of additional military support from Washington to commit $225m for the Iron Dome missile defence shield.

More than 100 people died in Israeli strikes across Gaza Wednesday, medics said, including 17 at a crowded marketplace, sending the Palestinian toll from the 23 days of fighting to 1 363.

On the Israeli side, the conflict has cost the lives of 56 Israeli soldiers, and two civilians.

Read more on: us palestine israel war gaza
Laurence Baumgardt 2014-07-31 08:06:46 AM
Yeah and allow the jihadists to merrily carry on with their terror campaigns to align the rest of the world with their ridiculous beliefs.
Brooklax Mpundus 2014-07-31 08:09:23 AM
"Just trying to keep the customer satisfied....."
Desire Jackson Pflugbeil 2014-07-31 08:09:34 AM
Amazing! So I guess they will have to shut up about Russia and the separatists now.
Tauriq Hercules 2014-07-31 08:15:17 AM
And such is war- All about the money! Actually tired about this Gaza-Israel story! Is there really no other news making headlines?
BikoGuevaraSlovoHaniX 2014-07-31 08:16:41 AM
We all know they are running Bantustans by forcefully designating where Palestinians ought to live. We all know they are occupying Palestinian land, we all know they are mercilessly murdering children and innocents and we all know that Israel is no longer the victim as they may try to claim by brandishing us as anti-semitic. But regardless of this clear obscenely stupid defense, to what do we owe our silence? Is the ultimate goal here a complete cleansing of Palestinian people from the borders near Israel, are we standing by witness to a situation similar to the “Final Solution”? The more I read, the more I learn, the more I see, its looking pretty ominous that just as Hitler and his sadists had decided on a final solution, the ground attack and offensive in the Gaza strip may be Israel’s final solution to their ‘Palestinian problem’ and to what do we remain silent for? How dare we pretend we are not bearing witness to situations similar to the annihilation of the Jews in the holocaust, for just as Hitler had found the best way to deal with it was unselective murder, so are we witnessing unselective, across the board and random murder of a whole peoples.
forest gump 2014-07-31 08:18:59 AM
big bad older brother at it again. no other nation in the world has double standards like the US. Enforcing sanctions on Russia for one and encouraging Israel with arms for what is pretty much the same thing
Kareemah Acharya 2014-07-31 08:19:30 AM
You people supporting usa backing of israel are the biggest fools,this invasoin has nothing to do with israels security its for the off shore gas why do you think uk and usa are backing usa terrorists its nothing but greed and another point america has never won a war their asses has always been whipped
Chris Lock 2014-07-31 08:22:58 AM
Where is the report of Hamas storing weapons in schools and hospitals?
Henno Du Preez 2014-07-31 08:28:41 AM
stop the WAR stop the WAR...but have some more
Rendani Nemavhidi 2014-07-31 08:29:06 AM
The greatest problem in the world has got to be hypocrisy at personal and country level. We generally claim to be what we are not.