The US media revealed that the Biden administration made over 100 weapons sales to Israel, including thousands of bombs, since the beginning of the conflict in Gaza. Each transaction falls below the dollar amount requiring congressional approval. The administration has come under scrutiny for its approach to Israeli military operations and the ongoing supply of munitions despite the reported death toll exceeding 30,000 and the looming threat of famine in the region.

In a classified briefing to Congress, the Biden administration informed lawmakers of over 100 foreign military sales to Israel, according to the US media. The individual sizes of these transactions are kept small, maintaining secrecy around the sales details. Among the reported items are precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, bunker busters, small arms, and other lethal aid.

The Arms Export Control Act provides significant exceptions for arms sales to close allies, allowing for limits of US$25 million for major defence equipment and US$100 million for other defence articles like bombs. However, using various smaller transactions has raised concerns about transparency and accountability. The critics point out the need for congressional oversight on such high-profile issues.

Director of the security assistance monitor at the Centre for International Policy think tank, Ari Tolany, expressed concerns about the administration’s use of a loophole to avoid scrutiny, stating that it follows the playbook of its predecessor. During the Trump administration, between 2017 and 2019, over 4,200 below-threshold arms transfers were reportedly made to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, totalling an estimated $11.2 billion.

Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro drew attention to previous sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel. In February, Castro pushed for an amendment requiring reporting all arms sales to Congress if total sales to a single country exceeded a specified threshold over a fiscal year.

The Biden administration’s undisclosed arms deliveries to Israel are in addition to three significant military sales publicly disclosed since the start of the Gaza war. These include $320 million in precision bomb kits in November, US$106 million for 14,000 tank shells, and US$147.5 million for fuses and other components needed for artillery shells in December. The December deliveries utilised emergency authority to bypass congressional scrutiny.

The administration justifies these arms sales by citing a commitment to Israel’s self-defence and supporting its campaign to prevent the repetition of attacks.

In response to increasing scrutiny over the US’s military assistance to Israel amid the ongoing Gaza war, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller pointed out that the aid is in line to support Israel’s legitimate military campaign, as per international humanitarian law. Miller admitted that the State Department has been relatively vague about its efforts to assess whether Israeli forces are committing war crimes during the Gaza war. The Civilian Harm Incident Response Guidance (CHIRG) process, established in September prior to the conflict, is currently being employed to evaluate the use of US armaments in Israel’s military operations. However, the CHIRG process is characterised as slow and does not inherently commit the administration to take remedial action based on its assessments.

UN special rapporteur for the rights of displaced people, Gaviria Betancur, has called for urgent action to address the humanitarian crisis and ensure the protection of fundamental rights for Palestinians in the region. Betancur described the impact of Israeli attacks on Gaza as “staggering”, revealing that 5% of the population has either been killed or wounded. The devastating toll underscores the urgent need for a reevaluation of the current approach to the conflict and an immediate cessation of hostilities. Betancur further noted that over 75% of Gaza’s population has been displaced.

The Special Rapporteur called for abandoning the belief that Israel will automatically respect international humanitarian and human rights law in military operations. Advocating for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, she stressed the need for meaningful measures to document and ensure accountability for atrocities committed during the conflict.

Betancur revealed that instead of complying with the court’s order, Israel has launched a campaign discrediting and defunding the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), a vital part of the humanitarian response in Gaza. The allegations point to a troubling pattern of attacks on aid convoys, health facilities, and aid-seekers, including a reported massacre and injury of hundreds during attacks on civilians queuing for food aid on 29 February and 1 March.

The Israeli government has approved the construction of 3,500 housing units in three different illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. This marks the first approval of housing units in illegal settlements since the onset of the conflict on 7 October. Prior to the war, an additional 3,700 units in illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem were also approved.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich suggested that the expansion of illegal settlements is a response to a shooting incident at one of the settlements in February. Smotrich holds a dual role in Israel’s defence ministry and oversees and approves settlement housing units. He reveals that 18,515 housing units in illegal settlements have been approved in the last year alone.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has engaged in talks with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. The discussions aimed at securing an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, along with the release of captives and the implementation of humanitarian airdrops. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller highlighted the close coordination between the United States and Jordan, particularly in their joint efforts to organise airdrops providing life-saving humanitarian aid to Gaza.

As diplomatic efforts continue, Gaza’s Health Ministry has reported a total of 20 deaths resulting from malnutrition and dehydration. Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra claims that the figure is likely higher. “We believe that dozens are dying silently as a result of starvation without reaching hospitals,” al-Qudra said.

At least five people lost their lives when an Israeli airstrike targeted a mosque in Jabalia al-Balad, located in northern Gaza.

South Africa continues its immediate ceasefire plea for Gaza. The country now requests additional measures and an immediate ceasefire order from the International Court of Justice. The goal is to prevent what officials are warning could become a full-scale famine in Gaza.

The Houthi-claimed strike on the cargo ship True Confidence has claimed lives, marking the first casualties since the group began targeting Red Sea shipping in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza.