Gaza Strip Crisis: US Suspends Hellfire Missile Shipment to Israel in Revised Arms Policy

The United States has started to tighten arms transfers to Israel following the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, blocking a shipment of Hellfire precision missiles as tensions between the two continue to worsen.

The move to suspend the arms supplies comes after White House and State Department officials discovered that the Israeli military had been receiving ammunition from the Pentagon without White House oversight.

The US government has now taken the decision to review every arms request by the Israeli military on an individual basis.

"There was no intent to blindside anyone. The process for this transfer was followed precisely along the lines that it should have," a US defense official said, after reports that the government had felt "blindsided" by the hushed arms transfers.

Another senior US official said the decision to tighten arms shipments to Israel and require approval from high-ranking offficials was intended to demonstrate there was no "blank cheque" from Washington to Tel Aviv.

However, former Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, told Israeli news outlet Ynet that it would be "impossible" for Israel to go behind the White House's back to get a resupply of ammunition.

"There is a claim in the Wall Street Journal that Israel went around the back of the United States to get a resupply of ammunition from the Pentagon, that it didn't get permission from the White House," he said.

"I can only tell you as an ambassador that is impossible because there's a very specific and deeply embedded procedure for doing that and Israel, in order to get access to preposition military equipment in this country, American equipment, has to go through the administration."

Diplomatic relations between Israel and the US have continued to sour over the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) tactics used in Operation Protective Edge and the high number of civilian casualties, many caused by artillery fire.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama exchanged a "particularly combative phone call on Wednesday", according to the Wall Street Journal.

The US administration views Netanyahu and his cabinet as reckless and untrustworthy while the Israeli cabinet see Obama's team as weak and naive.