U.S. Confirms Taking 'Additional Care' Over Israeli Arms Transfers Amid Gaza Operation

State Department spokesperson tries to minimize significance of the move, says no change in U.S. policy on supplying weapons to Israel.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he views an Iron Dome defense battery at Ben-Gurion International Airport Airport, Israel, March 20, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he views an Iron Dome defense battery at Ben-Gurion International Airport Airport, Israel, March 20, 2013.Credit: Reuters
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The U.S. State Department confirmed Thursday that the Obama administration was taking extra care in supplying weapons to Israel in the wake of Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.

Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that the U.S. was concerned about civilian deaths in Gaza. "We thought Israel could do more to prevent civilian casualties," she said. "Due to the crisis in Gaza we took additional care like we would take in any crisis. We took steps to look at (munitions) deliveries. We wanted to look at things a little bit harder."

Harf tried to minimize the significance of the move, saying this wasn't an extraordinary measure. There was "no change in policy" regarding the U.S. supply of arms to Israel, she said, adding, "The additional care we are taking is not permanent. The U.S. commitment to Israel's security is unshakable."

The latest crisis started when the White House instructed the Pentagon to put on hold a transfer of Hellfire missiles for Apache attack helicopters that Israel had requested for its operation in the Gaza Strip.

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday morning reported that the White House was angry at Netanyahu and the Israel Defense Forces over the attacks on Gaza, especially concerning the high number of civilian casualties.

Senior officials in Jerusalem told Haaretz.on Thursday that Israel in recent days has been holding discussions with the American administration, including at the very highest levels, in an attempt to resolve the crisis between the two countries.

"We are speaking with them to try and return the situation to its previous [status]," said one official. The crisis has yet to be resolved, the official said, but expressed hope that it will be resolved soon.

The talks between the parties are being conducted at the normal staff levels of the Prime Minister's Bureau, Defense Ministry and Israeli Embassy in Washington on the Israeli side, and the White House, U.S. State Department and Pentagon on the American. Nonetheless, it seems the matter has also been raised at the higher levels of the political leadership.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama held a telephone conversation Wednesday afternoon, and later Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon spoke on the phone with his counterpart, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. The Israelis initiated both calls, which were attempts to resolve the crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations.

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