The Biden government is quickly providing weapons to Israel in response to their urgent appeals for assistance, according to a high-ranking Pentagon official on Monday.
“The planes have departed,” stated the senior official, who remained anonymous in order to discuss confidential plans, to the press.
The Department of Defense is collaborating with its entire organization, including U.S. Central Command, to identify which weapons in the U.S. arsenal can be promptly provided for the defense of Israel. Additionally, they are urging the industry to speed up the processing of Israeli orders for military equipment. According to the official, DOD representatives are in constant communication with their Israeli counterparts to stay updated on the changing requirements of the conflict.
According to the official, the Pentagon is utilizing current resources and powers to carry out these actions, and has not yet required additional assistance from Congress.
The high-ranking government representative strongly criticized Hamas for their unexpected assaults on Israel during the weekend, stating that they were “unprecedented” and showed a level of brutality comparable to that of ISIS. This group is notorious for sharing disturbing videos of their executions of prisoners on various social media platforms.
A government representative stated that the actions of Hamas militants in Israel, which include killing children in front of their parents and committing violent massacres, are distinct and should be acknowledged as such. They emphasized the importance of being clear about the severity of these actions.
On Monday, the Biden administration informed congressional leaders and members of security committees about Hamas’ unexpected attacks, bringing attention to Israel’s request for additional weapons. In an unclassified call, officials shared that Israel urgently requires precision-guided munitions and more interceptors for their Iron Dome air defense system, as they are America’s closest ally in the Middle East.
According to a source on the call, Israel was also requesting additional small-diameter bombs made in the U.S.
The call for urgent military assistance will assess the ability of the House and Senate during a time of significant political uncertainty in Washington. This comes after the removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House speaker and difficulties in supplying arms due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Lawmakers are expected to receive a classified briefing sometime this week, in addition to the one held on Sunday night, according to the second individual who is familiar with the call.
Both Democrats and Republicans united in backing Israel over the weekend as the violence in Gaza continued. President Joe Biden and members of both parties have committed to quickly providing Israel with the necessary resources in response to the unprecedented assault.
Although certain weapons may be promptly distributed using current powers, Congress may have to allocate additional funds in the future. The outcome of the leadership turmoil in the House over the next few days will impact these endeavors.
After the meeting, Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Senate majority, stated that the Senate is prepared to fulfill any further requirements.
Schumer stated in a press release that he inquired with the Defense Department’s representatives about whether they were fully providing Israel with all necessary support. He was pleased to hear that they affirmed this and are increasing their assistance. He also asked if there were any requests from Israel that had been denied, to which they responded in the negative.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced on Saturday that he plans to propose a bill to replenish the interceptors used by the Iron Dome systems. The Senate is currently on recess and will reconvene next week.
Biden has not yet requested additional funding, but may do so soon. Many lawmakers are indicating that emergency funding should be promptly approved if necessary. According to a source familiar with the conversation, officials from the Pentagon and State Department stated during a briefing with lawmakers that they currently have all the necessary legal authorities to support Israel, although they did not specify what those authorities are.
The White House announced that additional support for Israel’s military will be delivered in the coming days, following a phone call between Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday. Efforts are currently in progress.
According to a second source familiar with the call, government officials informed lawmakers that they are considering utilizing part of the $100 million presidential drawdown authority to supply weapons from American military reserves.
Utilizing current reserves of the United States would certainly add strain to both the Pentagon and the defense sector. They are already struggling to allocate new contracts and ramp up production of specific munitions that have already been supplied to Ukraine.
The requirements of Israelis and Ukrainians differ in certain significant ways. Israel will heavily depend on precise air-to-ground weapons launched from F-16 and F-35 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, which are not available in the Ukrainian arsenal. The matter of 155mm artillery shells, which are crucial for both countries, is expected to be a major consideration.
However, the DOD official in charge stated that the U.S. was certain it could provide assistance to both Israel and Ukraine. They mentioned that the DOD continually evaluates the amount of weapons and ammunition stored globally.
The administration has utilized drawdown authority to provide weapons to Ukraine, and officials emphasized that it is important for Congress to allocate additional funds for restocking highly sought-after weapons, which would require separate appropriations.
During the defense trade show hosted by the Association of the United States Army on Monday, Doug Bush, the Army’s acquisition head, informed the media that there is a possibility of using reserve stockpiles if Israel has any needs. When it comes to assisting Israel, he mentioned that it all depends on obtaining the necessary authorizations.
Lawmakers in the United States have readily pledged increased aid to Israel, but given the current state of political dysfunction in Washington, there are concerns about the timeliness of the funds being allocated.
The House is currently unable to pass any laws as it needs to choose a new speaker to take the place of McCarthy, who was removed last week. This situation has caused some to suggest the reinstatement of McCarthy in order to address the current crisis.
The Senate is currently experiencing difficulties in filling positions for diplomatic and military roles. There is a sense of urgency to appoint top officials who can address the growing crisis in the Middle East. Among the nominees are Jack Lew for ambassador to Israel and several other envoys for the region.
Senator Tommy Tuberville from Alabama is delaying the promotion of over 300 senior military officials due to disagreements with the Pentagon’s abortion policies. These nominees include multiple officers who are being considered for leadership roles in the Middle East.
During the briefing, the initial individual who was aware of the call mentioned that multiple senators expressed worries about the obstructing of the nominee and its effects on operations. However, Tuberville stated that he was not retracting his stance over the weekend.