The US says Israel may have violated international law with US weapons in Gaza

  • Tom Bateman, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
  • BBC News

image source, Good pictures

image caption, The US is deeply concerned about the mounting civilian deaths in Gaza.

The US says Israel may have used US-supplied weapons in violation of international humanitarian law in some cases during the war in Gaza.

The State Department says it is “reasonable to assess” that US-supplied weapons have been used in ways “contrary” to Israel’s obligations.

But it added that the US government did not have “complete information” in its assessment.

The report was tabled in Congress on Friday after a delay.

The review, ordered by the White House, examined how US-supplied weapons have been used since early last year, along with six others involved in the conflict.

While the report was a clear condemnation of some Israeli actions in Gaza, it stopped short of asserting that the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) campaign violated international law.

It said Israel faced an “extraordinary military challenge” against Hamas in Gaza.

It said the assurances it had received from Israel about the legal use of US weapons were “credible and credible” and that arms exports could continue.

The document also noted that because Hamas uses “civilian infrastructure for military purposes and civilians as human shields,” it is “difficult to determine the realities on the ground in an operational battlefield.”

It added that “Israel has the knowledge, experience and tools to implement best practices to mitigate harm to civilians in its military operations”, but it “raises substantial questions about the IDF’s effective use in all cases, including high levels of civilian casualties”.

UN And humanitarian organizations described Israel’s efforts to reduce civilian casualties as “random, ineffective and inadequate,” the report said.

The State Department found that Israel was not fully cooperating with U.S. efforts to “increase” humanitarian aid to Gaza in the early months of the conflict. However, this situation has changed.

“We do not currently assess whether the Israeli government is interdicting or otherwise restricting the transit or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance,” the statement said.

One of the report’s contributors, former US ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield, told the BBC that the report was the first of its kind and that the US would continue to “review” Israeli actions.

“This is a conflict unlike anything the world has seen,” he added. “We tried to take all those factors into account in coming up with a very transparent, but reliable, judgment.”

More than 80,000 people have fled Rafah since Monday, the UN says, as Israeli tanks reportedly mass near the built-up areas amid repeated shelling.

Israeli troops took control and closed the Rafah crossing with Egypt at the start of their operation, while the UN It said it was too dangerous for its workers and trucks to reach the reopened Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel.

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