US Concerns Over Israel’s Use of American-Supplied Weapons

Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 8, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

The US government has indicated that Israel may have employed American-supplied weapons in manners that potentially violated international humanitarian law during the conflict in Gaza.

The State Department stated that it was “reasonable to assess” that certain arms provided by the US were utilized in ways that were “inconsistent” with Israel’s legal obligations. However, it also acknowledged that the assessment was not based on complete information and emphasized that shipments of arms could persist.

The report, initially delayed, was submitted to Congress on Friday as part of a White House-directed review examining the use of US-supplied arms by seven nations involved in conflicts since the beginning of the previous year.

re-write this news report; While the report was a clear rebuke of some Israeli operations in Gaza, it stopped short of definitively saying that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) campaign had breached international law. Israel had had to confront an “extraordinary military challenge” fighting Hamas in Gaza, it said. And it added that assurances it had received from Israel about adhering to the legal use of US weapons were “credible and reliable”. The document also noted that because Hamas “uses civilian infrastructure for military purposes and civilians as human shields”, it was often “difficult to determine facts on the ground in an active war zone” of what are legitimate targets. But it said that given Israel’s significant reliance on US-made weapons, they had probably been used “in instances inconsistent with its IHL [international humanitarian law] obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm”.
The report emphasized that while Israel possesses the knowledge and tools to implement best practices for reducing civilian harm in military operations, the actual outcomes on the ground, including high civilian casualties, raise concerns about the effectiveness of these practices.

It highlighted that the UN and humanitarian organizations have criticized Israel’s efforts to mitigate civilian harm as inconsistent, ineffective, and inadequate.

Furthermore, the report revealed that Israel initially did not fully cooperate with US efforts to facilitate humanitarian aid into Gaza during the early stages of the conflict. However, it noted that this situation has since changed.

David Satterfield, a former US ambassador to Turkey and a contributor to the report, told the BBC that it represents the first comprehensive assessment of its kind. He emphasized that the US will continue to monitor Israeli actions closely.

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