Conflict in the Middle East: Israel asks the US for more tanks and tactical vehicles

Israel is asking the United States more ammunition for tanks and tactical vehicles, said three people familiar with the matter, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government seeks to replenish its reserves amid the war in Gaza and rising tensions with Iran.

The people, who asked not to be identified because these were private deliberations, said the application had just been submitted and the administration had not yet begun a formal evaluation. He Wall Street Journal previously reported that the administration was weighing a request for $1 billion in ammunition for 120mm tanks, vehicles and mortar shells.

The State Department and the National Security Council declined to comment.

Any such request will re-place the Biden administration in a delicate position. The president has said that US support for Israel's defense is “strong” following the Hamas attack on October 7, which killed about 1,200 people and took about 240 people hostage.

At the same time, he has been criticized for failing to mitigate the severity of Israel's counteroffensive in Gaza, which has killed at least 30,000 people.

Israel's needs were further acute on April 13, when its air defenses – with help from the United States, the United Kingdom and others – repelled a barrage of some 300 drones and missiles fired by Iran.

That raised fears of escalating retaliation and stoked concerns of a broader war. On Thursday night, Israel counterattacked with a limited drone operation, according to two US officials.

Israel adds requests for support directed to the US

The last request is independent of the $95 billion supplemental funding request that CongressIt appears to approve this weekend to provide military aid to Israel and Ukraine. One of the officials said the United States has not started the review process, which in any case would take many months and does not guarantee a sale.

Tank ammunition would account for the largest share of the sale, with Oshkosh Corp.'s family of medium tactical vehicles the second largest share, one of the officials said.

The new request also is independent of a previous one to sell Israel more of one thousand 500-pound MK-82 bombs and more than one thousand 250-pound small diameter bombs and fuzes for other munitions still pending Congressional approval. These pending ammunition sales, if approved and contracted, would not be delivered until 2025.

Officials pressure Biden to withdraw aid to Israel

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, has pressured Biden to withhold offensive military aid, including bombs, until Israel allows humanitarian aid to flow unrestricted.

Van Hollen has urged Biden to enforce the Foreign Assistance Act, that prohibits assistance to countries that restrict “directly or indirectly” the delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance unless the president determines that doing so is in the interest of the national security of the United States.