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11 May, 2024 03:54

US unveils results of Israel war crimes probe

Washington has “reasonable” concerns that the IDF may have violated humanitarian law while using American weapons
US unveils results of Israel war crimes probe

The US State Department has released a report criticizing Israel's conduct of its war against Hamas in Gaza, but without finding specific violations that would require a military aid ban.

The Israeli military is facing increased international scrutiny as its military operation in Gaza enters its eighth month, claiming the lives of more than 34,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians.

In February, President Joe Biden ordered the Pentagon and the State Department to “obtain certain assurances” over Israel’s use of US-made weapons and to report back to Congress. A summary of the findings was released to the public on Friday.

The report claimed that the “nature of the conflict in Gaza makes it difficult to assess or reach conclusive findings on individual incidents,” and that Washington has yet to obtain “complete information to verify whether US defense articles” resulted in civilian deaths.

“Nevertheless, given Israel’s significant reliance on US-made defense articles, it is reasonable to assess that defense articles… have been used by Israeli security forces since October 7 in instances inconsistent with its IHL [international human law] obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm,” the report added.

Israel has “undertaken steps” to mitigate collateral damage, but the “results on the ground, including high levels of civilian casualties, raise substantial questions as to whether the IDF is using them effectively in all cases,” the summary reads.

Biden admitted earlier this week that at least some Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed by US-made bombs – and has vowed to halt the supply of any weapons that Israel could use in a major military operation in the southern city of Rafah. 

Israel declared war on Hamas in Gaza following the militant group’s deadly October 7 incursion, which claimed over 1,200 lives, while hundreds of Israelis were taken hostage.

Although IDF tanks rolled into the outskirts of Rafah on Monday, with Israeli troops securing parts of the city, but Biden believes that Israel’s “limited” operation has yet to cross Washington’s red line.

On Friday, Israel’s war cabinet approved a “measured expansion” of the ground operation in Rafah, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledging to continue the military campaign and “fight with our fingernails” if the US halts in the supply of weapons.

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