Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Second Class Felix Garza Jr.
Ordnance handlers assemble Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs aboard USS Constellation.

Since March, the Biden administration has not advanced the congressional notification process on $1 billion in weapons deals for Israel that include tank ammunition, military vehicles, and mortar rounds, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday evening citing US officials.

According to the WSJ, it would take months and even years to deliver the ammunition in question, which includes $700 million in 120 mm tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and close to $100 million in 120 mm mortar rounds.


On Monday, the Jewish Press (US Blocks Ammunition Shipment to Israel, Reason Unclear) cited a source in Washington who said “There is a temporary hold on one shipment until the US is briefed on the Rafah battle plans,” but the WSJ report suggests the delays in processing some weapons transfers preceded the now open conflict between the White House and Israel over Rafah.

As of Tuesday morning, the IDF is fighting its way to taking over the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing, which to date has been the only point of exit from Gaza not under Israeli control. Israel aims to assert its control over the Rafah crossing to undermine Hamas’s remaining capacity to demonstrate its authority in Gaza, and to prevent the flight of high-ranking Hamas leaders such as Yahyah Sinwar.

But an increasing number of Democrats in Congress are urging the administration to reduce arms shipments to pressure Israel into taking stronger measures to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza. According to Hamas health officials, more than 34,000 individuals have lost their lives in the region, although those health officials have not been able to substantiate the deaths of at least 10,000, and the exact number of civilians vs. terrorists among the dead remains unspecified.

The most crucial item on the list of munitions the administration, according to the WSJ, has yet to process for sale and delivery to Israel is the JDAM – Joint Direct Attack Munition, about which the administration never issued an official notification to Congress, thus halting the deal.

The JDAM is a guidance kit that converts unguided bombs, or “dumb bombs,” into all-weather precision-guided munitions. JDAM-equipped bombs are guided by an integrated inertial guidance system coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, giving them a range of up to 15 nautical miles. JDAM-equipped bombs range from 500 to 2,000 pounds. 

According to the manufacturer, Boeing, there is no problem in constructing a sufficient number of JDAM: as of January 2024, 550,000 kits have been produced. So the answer to the confusion about the reason for the Biden administration’s delay in processing the sale is that it doesn’t want to.

In a phone conversation Monday night, President Biden updated Prime Minister Netanyahu on efforts to secure a hostage deal, including through ongoing talks today in Doha, Qatar. The President also “reiterated his clear position on Rafah.”

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