US has ongoing conversation with Israel over weapons use, Blinken says

FILE PHOTO: Blinken testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Biden administration remains concerned about Israel's possible use of heavy bombs against civilians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and is in contact with Israel about it, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden's administration said this month that it had reviewed the delivery of weapons that Israel might use for a major invasion of Rafah, a southern Gaza city where over 1 million civilians had sought refuge, and as a result paused a shipment of bombs to Israel.

"We have an ongoing conversation with Israel about this and about our concerns about the use of these particular weapons in that particular way in that particular place. And those concerns remain," Blinken told a House of Representatives hearing.

Israel, a major recipient of U.S. military assistance for decades, is still due to get billions of dollars of U.S. weaponry.

"The other assistance that we've been providing for Israel's defense continues and will continue because, again, the president is determined that Israel have what it needs to defend itself," Blinken told the House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

Israel is retaliating against Hamas in Gaza - an enclave of 2.3 million people - over a brutal Oct. 7 attack in which the Palestinian militants killed around 1,200 people and seized 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Palestinian authorities say more than 35,000 people have been killed during Israel's campaign in Gaza. Malnutrition is widespread, much of Gaza's population has been left homeless and much of its infrastructure has been destroyed.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; editing by Bill Berkrot)