US President Joe Biden
US President Joe BidenREUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

A senior US administration official confirmed on Tuesday that the US paused a shipment of bombs to Israel last week over concerns that Israel was approaching a decision on launching a full-scale assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, The Associated Press reported.

The official said the decision to pause the shipment was made last week and no final decision had been made yet on whether to proceed with the shipment at a later date.

The shipment which was paused was supposed to consist of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, according to the official, with the focus of U.S. concern being the larger explosives and how they could be used in a dense urban setting.

The confirmation follows a report by Axios' Barak Ravid that the Biden administration had stopped a shipment of US-made ammunition to Israel last week.

According to the report, the incident raised serious concerns inside the Israeli government and sent officials scrambling to understand why the shipment was held.

The US has long been vocal in its opposition to an Israeli operation in Rafah. On Sunday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. A Pentagon statement released after the call said that Austin “stressed the need for any potential Israeli military operation in Rafah to include a credible plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians and maintain the flow of humanitarian aid.”

Those comments were a reiteration of comments made by Austin during a conversation with Gallant last week.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to reporters at Ashdod Port during his visit to Israel last week, was asked about a potential Israeli operation in Rafah and whether Israel has provided a viable plan for such an operation.

“On Rafah itself, look, our position is clear. It hasn’t changed; it won’t change. We cannot, will not support a major military operation in Rafah absent an effective plan to make sure that civilians are not harmed. And no, we have not seen such a plan. And at the same time, there are other ways – and in our judgment, better ways – of dealing with the real ongoing challenge of Hamas that does not involve or require a major military operation in Rafah. We’ve been talking with the Israelis about that; we’ll continue those conversations,” replied Blinken.