The U.S. State Department has advanced a $1 billion weapons aid package for Israel to the congressional review process, according to two U.S. officials on Tuesday. The package includes tank rounds, mortars, and armored tactical vehicles, highlighting the ongoing U.S. support for Israel amidst the protracted conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

This move comes shortly after President Joe Biden announced the delay of a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs to Israel due to concerns that these munitions might be used in a major invasion of Rafah, a densely populated town in southern Gaza. Biden's decision reflects the administration's cautious approach towards the escalation of violence in civilian areas.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated on Monday that while the U.S. continues to provide military assistance as part of the $26 billion supplemental funding bill passed last month, the specific shipment of bombs was paused. "We do not believe they should be dropped in densely populated cities," Sullivan told reporters.

The review of the weapons deal falls under the purview of the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations and the House Foreign Affairs committees, who scrutinize major foreign weapons transactions. The Biden administration has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise restraint and avoid invading Rafah without implementing safeguards for civilians. This plea comes seven months into a war that has wrought significant devastation in Gaza.

Biden's unwavering support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas has posed a political challenge for him, particularly among young Democrats, as he campaigns for re-election. The administration's balancing act of supporting Israel's defense needs while addressing humanitarian concerns in Gaza remains a contentious issue.

The Biden administration officially notified Congress of its intention to transfer $1 billion in weapons to Israel, confirmed a congressional aide to CBS News. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news. Congressional approval is required for the transfer to proceed. This development follows the U.S. withholding certain munitions shipments to Israel and President Biden's warning about expanding ground offensives in civilian areas.

"We are continuing to send military assistance, and we will ensure that Israel receives the full amount provided in the supplemental," Sullivan said, referencing the recently signed funding package that includes approximately $14 billion for Israel's defense. Last month, Congress passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill, which encompasses military aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan.

Additionally, the House is expected to vote on a measure requiring the State Department and the Defense Department to expedite the delivery of military equipment. Despite this, the White House has pledged to veto the legislation, and it is unlikely to pass in the Senate.