Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (L) stand side by side.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (L) visit the site of the shooting in Hebron, West Bank on August 21, 2023.

(Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Israeli Assurances on US Weapons and International Law Called 'Sick Joke'

"We know Israel won't comply so long as there are no consequences," said one advocacy group. "The U.S. must cut off weapons now!"

In news that one policy expert said could have been ripped from the satirical newspaper The Onion, Israeli officials gave a written assurance to the Biden administration on Friday that it would use U.S. weapons in accordance with international law.

The assurance comes more than five months into Israel's bombardment of Gaza, in which the country's U.S.-backed military has killed at least 31,490 Palestinians, including more than 12,300 children, while claiming to be targeting Hamas members.

Assal Rad, research director at the National Iranian American Council, noted that Israel has also killed at least 95 journalists in Gaza, attacked healthcare facilities, and starved civilians by blocking humanitarian aid deliveries while explicitly calling on the Israel Defense Forces to commit genocidal acts.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signed the letter to the Biden administration weeks after the White House released a national security memorandum (NSM-20) saying Secretary of State Antony Blinken must "obtain credible and reliable written assurances" from any country receiving U.S. weapons, stating that the country "will use any such defense articles in accordance with international humanitarian law."

In December, an Amnesty International investigation found that U.S.-made munitions had been used by the IDF in two illegal airstrikes on residential buildings, which killed more than 43 people, including 19 children.

NSM-20 also says a country receiving U.S. arms must "facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance and United States government-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance."

"This is nonsense," Rohan Talbot, director of advocacy and campaigns for Medical Aid for Palestinians, said of Gallant's letter on Friday.

While relentlessly assaulting civilian targets in Gaza, Israel has allowed only a fraction of the humanitarian aid that's needed into the enclave. In recent weeks, the IDF has killed an estimated 400 Palestinians who were trying to access aid, according to officials in Gaza.

According toAxios, which first reported on Israel's communication, Blinken has until March 25 to certify that Gallant's assurances are credible.

Gallant is among the top Israeli officials who have used genocidal rhetoric regarding Palestinians since the country began its bombardment in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. He said publicly in October that the IDF was fighting "human animals" in Gaza—home to about 2.3 million people, nearly half of whom are children.

The letter from the defense minister amounted to "a sick joke," said author and political analyst Josh Ruebner.

"Israel's assurances to President Joe Biden that it won't use U.S. weapons to violate international law and won't block U.S. aid from reaching starving Palestinians are clear and blatant lies," said the Institute for Middle East Understanding. "We know Israel won't comply so long as there are no consequences. The U.S. must cut off weapons now!"

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