Shafaat Yar Khan
In a concerning turn of events, reports have emerged indicating that U.S. weapons left behind in Afghanistan after the tumultuous withdrawal have reportedly fallen into the hands of Palestinian militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip. This revelation has raised alarm bells in the international community and underscores the far-reaching consequences of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal strategy.
In a recent surge of violence, the Islamist group Hamas executed a highly coordinated and unexpected assault over the weekend. This attack has resulted in the loss of more than 700 lives among the Israeli population. In response, Israel has conducted airstrikes in the densely-populated Gaza Strip, leading to the death of over 400 Palestinians in the area.
Senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine said his group’s “guns and rockets” were with Palestinian militants who carried out a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday that left 250 Israelis dead.
“Our history, our guns and our rockets are with you. Everything we have is with you,” Safieddine said at an event in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahieh on Beirut’s outskirts in solidarity with the Palestinian fighters.
An estimated 2,200 rockets were fired toward southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, by the Hamas militants, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Meanwhile, Hamas claimed at least 5,000 rockets were fired, all landing in southern and central Israel.
According to a high-ranking Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander, American weapons that were left in Afghanistan as a result of the chaotic pullout have found their way to the Palestinian territories. While the exact path of these weapons remains uncertain, it is clear that their presence in the hands of Palestinian militants presents a complex and dangerous situation.
In a report published in ‘Townhall’, the IDF commander told Newsweek that:
“A high-ranking Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander has told Newsweek that Israel is concerned over the risks of weapons provided by the United States and other Western nations to Ukraine ending up in the hands of Israel’s foes in the Middle East, including Iran. With experts too backing these worries, the situation could mark yet another chapter in a long legacy of U.S. arms shipments being diverted, empowering adversaries of both Israel and the U.S. in another restive region, while the focus of Western governments is on the volatile conflict playing out in Eastern Europe.”
On the other hand a Pentagon report indicated that $7 billion worth of military equipment granted to the previous Afghan government fell into Taliban hands after Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
In a statement to the outlet, a U.S. State Department spokesperson downplayed the risk of the diversion of weapons supplied by the Pentagon.
The Gaza Strip, which is home to various Palestinian factions, including Hamas, has a long history of conflict with Israel. The presence of advanced U.S. weaponry in the hands of these groups raises concerns about the potential escalation of violence and instability in the region.
The hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, which unfolded in August 2021, left behind a substantial amount of U.S. military equipment and weaponry. The intention was to transfer these assets to the Afghan security forces, but the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and military meant that much of this equipment was left unsecured. This situation has created an environment where weapons could be easily seized by various groups with hostile intentions.
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