Biden administration report says Israel likely violated international law in Gaza

A US State Department report found “plausible” evidence that Israel violated international humanitarian law by using US weapons in Gaza.

The long-awaited report would have asked the United States to stop sending weapons to its ally if it violates the terms of the arms convention.

But the investigation could not immediately link the violations to US weapons, leaving the Biden administration some leeway on whether to restrict future sales.

An earlier Associated Press story, citing an unnamed official, said the report was expected to find that Israel had not violated international humanitarian law.

The report was the result of presidential directives that came after pressure from Democrats to force the administration to decide whether American-made weapons sent to Israel are being used legally.

It is unclear whether the United States will continue to investigate whether the violations described in the report were carried out with American weapons.

A separate investigation by Amnesty International concluded that US munitions were used in “two deadly and unlawful air strikes on homes full of civilians in the occupied Gaza Strip” in October.

“The fact that the Israeli military is using US-made munitions in unlawful attacks with deadly consequences for civilians should serve as an urgent wake-up call to the Biden administration. US-made weapons have facilitated mass killings of extended families,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

Israel insists that it adheres to international humanitarian law and blames Hamas for a large number of civilian casualties due to its operation near civilians. It says it is waging an existential battle against Hamas.

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Biden said in December that “indiscriminate bombing” was costing Israel international support, but this was the first time the US government had directly linked Israel to war crimes.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, who led the effort to investigate, said: The Independent Earlier this week: “This report will be a test of the Biden administration’s credibility as to whether or not they are willing to look at all the facts and apply the law to the war in Gaza.”

In recent days, President Joe Biden explicitly threatened for the first time to halt arms deliveries to Israel if it launches a major ground operation in the border city of Rafah.

Biden made the comment in an interview with CNN during a visit to Wisconsin on Wednesday, where he told anchor Erin Burnett that he would not stop the flow of defensive weapons like interceptors used for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system even if he cut them off. An influx of munitions such as the 2,000-pound shipment of bombs he admitted to hanging.

He said: “We will continue to ensure Israel’s security regarding Iron Dome and its ability to respond to attacks that have recently emanated from the Middle East.” “But this is wrong. We will not do that – we will not supply weapons and artillery shells.”

Biden also said he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel “will not have our support, if in fact they are going to these population centers.”

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a result of these bombs and other ways they target population centres.”

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The Independent I have previously reported on allegations from former State Department and Pentagon officials that the administration’s investigations into possible war crimes committed by Israel are being undermined by Biden’s insistence on providing his close ally with billions of dollars in military support.

The former officials said the decades-long deep personal relationship between the president and Israel renders U.S. laws and regulations on U.S. arms sales essentially useless.

“There is no incentive to investigate whether the president and the White House have themselves declared the aid unconditional,” said Brian Finucane, who worked for a decade in the State Department’s Office of Legal Counsel advising on arms transfers and gun laws. war.

“This means they don’t want to hear inappropriate legal conclusions,” he said. The Independent Last month.

Charles Blaha, former director of the State Department’s Bureau of Security and Human Rights, which regulates arms transfers, said investigations into violations of humanitarian law in the Gaza conflict – if they occur at all – will likely not be taken seriously.

“My feeling is that people are patting themselves on the head and saying, ‘This is all very interesting,’ but I think the president is calling the shots here,” he said in April.

The State Department has been working on the report for months. It was scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday but was postponed.

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