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Accusations of hypocrisy follow U.S. arms transfer to Israel

A new Biden administration authorization for the transfer of billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets to Israel has drawn criticism and accusations of hypocrisy from some lawmakers, as the White House has expressed concern about civilian deaths in Gaza and humanitarian access to the enclave, which is on the edge of famine. The transfer includes more than 1,800 2,000-pound bombs, the likes of which experts say have been linked to the soaring death toll during Israel’s campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the move “obscene,” writing in a post on social media, “The U.S. cannot beg [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] to stop bombing civilians one day and the next send him thousands more 2,000 lb. bombs that can level entire city blocks.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) echoed that sentiment, calling the transfer “wrong on every level.” The administration “can’t credibly push to increase humanitarian access to Gaza” while providing weapons used to “indiscriminately kill innocent Palestinians,” he said.

“We have continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself,” a White House official told The Washington Post. “Conditioning aid has not been our policy.”

News of the transfer came the same day President Biden acknowledged “the pain being felt by so many in the Arab American community with the war in Gaza,” and as tensions have risen between the United States and Israel over plans by Netanyahu to launch a military offensive in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where some 1.5 million Palestinians have taken refuge.

On Friday, Israel carried out strikes in Syria that killed dozens of Syrian soldiers, several members of the militant group Hezbollah as well as civilians, according to a spokesperson for Hezbollah and Syria’s state news agency. The strikes mark an intensification of Israel’s campaign against Iranian-backed forces outside its borders.

Here’s what else to know

An Israeli strike killed 10 Palestinian police officers and wounded several civilians Friday at a sports club east of Gaza City, where police were distributing aid to displaced families, a Gaza civil defense official said. The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the strike, and The Post could not independently verify the account.

Humanitarian groups are calling on Israel to follow additional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice on Thursday to do more to prevent civilian deaths in Gaza. Amnesty International said the additional provisions are “a clear indication” of Israel’s “failure thus far to comply with the previous legally binding measures issued by the Court.” Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, asked United Nations member states to “exert more pressure to implement the ICJ order.”

Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the suspension of state subsidies for ultra-Orthodox Jews studying in yeshivas instead of doing military service, a move that intensifies the coalition crisis Netanyahu is facing over drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews. The government has until April 1 to decide on a new law to allow the community to avoid being drafted.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said 26 members of its team have been killed since the start of the war in Gaza, including 15 workers it says were targeted while wearing the aid group’s emblem, which is protected by international law.

At least 32,623 people have been killed and 75,092 injured in Gaza since the war began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. Israel estimates that about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack and says 254 soldiers have been killed since the start of its military operation in Gaza.



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