WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is blasting the Biden Administration for putting a hold on the shipment of 3500 bombs to Israel.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Ernst said. “Withholding any support from Israel is literally appeasing Iran-backed Hamas terrorists while they are still holding our Americans hostage and so I am demanding answers for why the administration is turning its back on Israel and preventing it from defending itself.”

Ernst and a fellow Republican senator returned to the U.S. Tuesday after meeting with allies in the Middle East, including Israeli government officials. “We have yet to hear from the (Biden) Administration on the true reasons why they have stopped these weapons shipments,” Ernst said.

During testimony at a U.S. Senate hearing Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the U.S. had put a hold on a shipment of weapons and that U.S. assistance to Israel could change if there’s a major Israeli operation in Rafah, a major city in southern Gaza. Ernst said the delay in providing military assistance to Israel runs counter to President Biden’s own declarations.

“He had stated a while back that his support of Israel was iron clad, so he’s either misleading the people of Israel or he’s just certainly lying to Americans,” Ernst said. “…Hamas is the enemy, not Israel.”

A month ago, congress approved a package that included $26 billion in aid to Israel. Ernst indicated it’s not clear if this delayed shipment is part of that. Ernst said if these are weapons Israel has paid for, “which is often the case,” then they need to be delivered.

“There have been a number of responses again through the media because he has not been forthcoming with any information stating, ‘Oh, it’s a paperwork issue,’ but we’ve also heard, ‘Oh, the president has concerns about the operations in Rafah,’ which is why he stopped those weapons and munitions,” Ernst said, “so we’re seeking clarity, we’re seeking transparency.”

During her Middle East trip, Ernst met with Kurdish allies in Iraq. She also visited American soldiers at U-S installations in Syria and the United Arab Emirates. Israel was the final stop and Ernst met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, other Israeli government leaders and the families of Hamas hostages.

“We still have eight Americans that are held hostage, three of whom we know are deceased,” Ernst said. “We really want to see the return of our five American hostages.”

Ernst said too many Americans have forgotten what happened in Israel on October 7, 2023.

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