WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Defense Department sold to Israel munitions from its Israel-based surplus stockpile.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in an email Thursday to JTA. “This defense sale is consistent with those objectives.”
The weapons released were 120mm tank rounds and 40mm illumination rounds. Israel made the request July 20, which was 12 days after the launch of the current Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip. The items were released on July 23.
Kirby in his email noted that White House approval is not required for the sale of munitions in the Israel-based stockpile.
U.S. defense assistance to Israel has for years included the existence of a stockpile in the country of surplus U.S. weapons available for expedited sale to Israel.
Separately, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a phone call with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon repeated U.S. calls for a humanitarian cease-fire.
“Hagel called for the cease-fire and expressed concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths as well as the loss of Israeli lives,” said a statement by Kirby describing the phone call on Wednesday. “Hagel also reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s security and its right to self defense and said that any process to resolve the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups.”