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Biden says he would halt additional weapons shipments if Israel invades Rafah

President Biden is seen at the White House on May 2. In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Biden said he would halt some weapons shipments to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a full invasion of Rafah.
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President Biden is seen at the White House on May 2. In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Biden said he would halt some weapons shipments to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a full invasion of Rafah.

President Biden says that he has threatened to withhold some weapons to Israel if it proceeds with a major ground invasion of Rafah, saying civilians have died as a result of the use of certain bombs.

"I made it clear that if they go into Rafah — they haven't gone in Rafah yet — if they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities — that deal with that problem," Biden told CNN's Erin Burnett.

Israel moved into the city on Tuesday in what the White House has described as appearing to be a limited operation.

Biden's comments, which aired Wednesday night on CNN, follow confirmation that the administration had already paused one shipment of more than 3,000 bombs because of concerns they could be used by Israel on Rafah, the southern city housing more than 1 million civilians in Gaza.

A senior administration official confirmed that pause to NPR earlier on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. White House spokespersons declined earlier on Monday and Tuesday to speak publicly about the pause, which was first reported by Axios.

The paused shipment included 1,700 500-pound bombs and 1,800 2000-pound bombs.

The 2,000-pound bombs are of particular concern to the U.S. administration given the impact they could have in dense urban settings, the official said.

On CNN, Biden referred to that deadly capacity.

"Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers," he said.

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The shipment that is currently paused is not part of the recently passed $95 billion foreign aid bill, which included $26 billion in aid and relief for Israel and Gaza. Israel will receive the funding appropriated by Congress from that bill, the official said.

Biden told CNN that the U.S. was not "walking away from Israel's security," including support for the Iron Dome defense system, and was instead trying to limit capacity for proactive military action.

The White House has been pushing for an extended cease-fire in Gaza to allow for the release of hostages still held there and a surge in humanitarian aid, and have warned Israel against a ground operation in Rafah.

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