Biden administration resumes shipment of 500-pound bombs to Israel, pauses 2,000-pound bombs.

The Biden administration will resume shipping 500-pound bombs to Israel but will continue to hold back on supplying 2,000-pound bombs due to concerns over their use in densely populated Gaza, a US official reported on Wednesday.


In May, the US paused shipments of both 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs, concerned about the impact they could have in Gaza amid the ongoing war that began with Hamas’ deadly cross-border raid on October 7. The administration was particularly worried about the use of large bombs in Rafah, where over one million Palestinians had taken refuge.

Specific Concerns

“We’ve been clear that our concern has been on the end-use of the 2,000-lb bombs, particularly for Israel’s Rafah campaign which they have announced they are concluding,” the US official said anonymously. One 2,000-pound bomb can penetrate thick concrete and metal, creating a wide blast radius.

The 500-pound bombs were paused as they were included in the same shipment with the larger bombs.

“Our main concern had been and remains the potential use of 2,000 lb bombs in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza. Because our concern was not about the 500 lb bombs, those are moving forward as part of the usual process,” the official added.

Communication with Israel

The US has informed Israel that it is releasing the 500-pound bombs but maintaining the hold on the larger ones. In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Washington was withholding weapons and urged US officials to address the situation. Biden’s aides expressed disappointment and confusion over Netanyahu’s remarks.

During a visit to Washington, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant mentioned significant progress in resolving issues related to US munitions supply to Israel, noting that “obstacles were removed and bottlenecks were addressed.”

Ongoing Supplies

Despite the pause on the shipment, Israel has continued to receive a steady flow of US weaponry. Reuters reported that between the start of the Gaza war last October and the end of June, the US transferred at least 14,000 MK-84 2,000-pound bombs, 6,500 500-pound bombs, 3,000 Hellfire precision-guided air-to-ground missiles, 1,000 bunker-buster bombs, 2,600 air-dropped small-diameter bombs, and other munitions.

International Scrutiny

International scrutiny of Israel’s military operation in Gaza has intensified as the Palestinian death toll has exceeded 38,000, according to the Gaza health ministry, leaving the coastal enclave in ruins. The conflict escalated on October 7 when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.