U.S. denies change of policy in arming Israel over Gaza

Israeli soldiers at the border with Gaza.

Israeli soldiers at the border with Gaza.

Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf denied on Thursday night a report claiming a change in U.S. policy in arming and shipping weapons to Israel due to its killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip.

“We thought Israel could do more to prevent civilian casualties,” Harf said.

She added: “Due to the crisis in Gaza we took additional care like we would take in any crisis. We took steps to look at (munitions) deliveries. … We wanted to look at things a little bit harder.”

But she emphasized that there was “no change in policy” regarding the U.S. supply of arms to Israel.

“The additional care we are taking is not permanent. …The U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable.”

After more than a month of intense conflict, which killed 1,945 Palestinians, many of them civilians, as well as 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel, a fresh truce between Israel and Hamas appeared to be holding.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that White House and State Department officials were caught off guard during the Gaza conflict that the Israeli military had quietly secured U.S. ammunition supplies from the Pentagon.

The newspaper also said the Obama administration had since tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel, a close U.S. ally that has strong support within the U.S. Congress.

The United States repeatedly called on Israel to do more to prevent civilian casualties during the fighting, which was set off by rocket launches from the Gaza Strip into Israel, which then launched both air strikes and a limited ground invasion.

On Aug. 3, the State Department issued an unusually harsh statement after shelling at a U.N. school in Gaza. While it did not explicitly blame the shelling on the Israeli military, it urged greater care to protect civilians

 
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