US 'not willing to provide' some weapons Israel asks for because of American military readiness: General

But a spokesperson clarified that America continues to support "our ally."

March 28, 2024, 10:00 PM

The United States hasn't given Israel every weapon it has asked for as it continues military operations against Hamas in Gaza, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters on Thursday.

"Although we've been supporting them with capability, they've not received everything they've asked for," Gen. CQ Brown said at an event hosted by the Defense Writers Group,

That is partly "because they've asked for stuff that we're -- either don't have the capacity [for] or not willing to provide, not right now, in particular," said Brown, America's top military officer.

He did not provide details about what weapons systems are not being given to Israel: "I don't make those kinds of those decisions on what goes or doesn't go."

When asked if the U.S. has been withholding some aid to in order to get Israel to focus more on humanitarian aid or protecting civilians -- something the White House has criticized Israeli forces for, though Israel maintains it takes such steps despite the high death toll in Gaza -- Brown responded that the Israeli requests are seen through the same prism used for requests from other countries: how they could impact U.S. military readiness.

"It is a constant dialogue," he said.

Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, wouldn't elaborate on Brown's comments during a separate briefing on Thursday, saying only that the U.S. remains committed to its "longstanding efforts to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge."

A spokesperson for Brown subsequently issued a statement clarifying that his remarks about Israel were "solely in reference to a standard practice before providing military aid to any of our allies and partners."

"We assess U.S. stockpiles and any possible impact on our own readiness to determine our ability to provide the requested aid," said the spokesperson, Navy Capt. Jereal Dorsey. "There is no change in U.S. policy. The United States continues to provide security assistance to our ally Israel as they defend themselves from Hamas."

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Q. Brown, Jr., attends a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Emancipation Hall, on March 21, 2024, in Washington, D.C.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Newscom

Earlier this week, Brown participated in Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's meeting at the Pentagon with Austin's Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant. But Brown on Thursday declined to provide full details of that discussion.

He said that the Israelis had provided "broad concepts" of their operational plan for an expected incursion into the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza next to Egypt.

"We got a little more detail on some of the broad concepts of the humanitarian [plan] and moving civilians than we got on the operational piece," Brown said. "So I'm anxious to hear both of those and how that all comes together."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to go into Rafah to target Hamas fighters, despite U.S. concerns about the potential civilian casualties, some six months into a war that was sparked by Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attack.

Approximately 1.4 million Palestinians are thought to be taking refuge in the city.

More than 32,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Hamas-run health ministry there.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a trip to the Middle East last week, said a major military operation in Rafah would be a "mistake" that would result in more civilian deaths and worsen an already dire humanitarian crisis.

Netanyahu has said going into Rafah is crucial for victory over Hamas and to prevent future terror attacks. Israeli forces have also said they plan to push civilians toward "humanitarian islands" in the center of Gaza in advance of an offensive in Rafah.

Brown said on Thursday that he would like to hear more details of the Israeli plans that "will help tell us a bit more of the feasibility of their plan and how they're going to execute."

ABC News' Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.