Joe Biden says US will stop some weapons shipments to Israel if it invades Gaza city of Rafah

President Joe Biden has warned Israel in his toughest public comments so far that the US would stop supplying it with some weapons if Israel invades the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

If Israeli forces launch an all-out assault on the city, the last major Hamas stronghold in the besieged enclave, the US president said “we’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells that have been used”.

In an interview with CNN, Mr Biden acknowledged US weapons have been used by Israel which have killed civilians in Gaza during its seven-month offensive aimed at destroying Hamas.

It comes after his decision last week to pause a shipment of heavy 2,000lb bombs to Israel over concerns about a looming attack on Rafah, following public and private warnings from his administration.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Mr Biden told CNN.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, that deal with that problem.”

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the weapons delay earlier on Wednesday, saying the US paused “one shipment of high payload munitions”.

“We’re going to continue to do what’s necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself,” Mr Austin said.

“But that said, we are currently reviewing some near-term security assistance shipments in the context of unfolding events in Rafah.”

Israel carried out military operations in Rafah earlier this week in what it described as “targeted strikes”.