Jabalia refugee camp after an Israeli bombing

People inspect damage caused by an October 31, 2023 Israeli bombing of the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza that killed and wounded hundreds of Palestinians with U.S.-supplied bombs.

(Photo: Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images)

'Outrageous': US Accepts Israeli Assurances on Legal Use of Weapons in Gaza

Palestinian American author and political analyst Yousef Munayyer called the U.S. assessment "absolutely scandalous."

The Biden administration on Monday said that Israel's use of U.S.-supplied weapons in a war that's killed and maimed more than 114,000 Palestinians complies with international law, a conclusion that flies in the face of multiple court rulings that Israel is plausibly committing genocide in Gaza and the assessments of legal and human rights experts around the world.

Referring to a letter from Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a Monday press briefing that the Biden administration has "had ongoing assessments of Israel's compliance with international humanitarian law" and "have not found them to be in violation, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or the provision of humanitarian assistance."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had until Monday to certify to Congress that Israel is adhering to President Joe Biden's February 2023 memo stating that "no arms transfer will be authorized where the United States assesses that it is more likely than not that the arms to be transferred will be used by the recipient to commit... genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949... or other serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law."

"These assurances are perspective, but of course, our view on them is informed by our ongoing assessments of Israel's conduct in the war in Gaza," said Miller.

Palestinian American author and political analyst Yousef Munayyer called the U.S. assessment "absolutely scandalous."

According to Palestinian and international officials, Israeli bombs and bullets—many of them provided by the United States as part of the $3.8 billion in annual military aid and additional emergency shipments—have killed more than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza since October 7, the majority of them women and children.

In December, Biden implored Israel to stop its "indiscriminate bombing" of Gaza. Since then, Israeli forces have killed or wounded over 40,000 people.

Experts have pointed to the types of munitions being used by Israeli forces as a major reason why so many Gazans are being killed and injured. These include U.S.-supplied 1,000-pound and 2,000-pound guided "bunker-buster" bombs, which Israel says are necessary to target Hamas' underground tunnels.

Aided by artificial intelligence-based target selection systems, Israel Defense Forces commanders are approving bombings they know will cause large numbers of civilian casualties. In a bid to assassinate a single Hamas commander, the IDF dropped at least two 2,000-pound bombs on the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp on October 31, killing more than 120 civilians.

Even the United States military—which since 2001 has killed hundreds of thousands of people during the open-ended so-called War on Terror—avoids using 2,000-pound bombs in densely populated areas due to the tremendous damage they cause.

Regarding the Biden administration's assessment that Israel is adhering to international law when it comes to providing humanitarian assistance to besieged and starving Gazans, journalist Krystal Ball noted Monday that Blinken "admits 100% of the population is being starved yet somehow certifies that Israel isn't blocking humanitarian aid."

"This is fucking outrageous," Ball said on social media as critics pointed out how Gallant publicly declared in October that Israel would commit the war crime of a "complete siege" of Gaza.

The U.S. assessment stands in stark contrast with two major court rulings—one by the International Court of Justice and the other by a federal court in California—that Israel is plausibly committing genocide in Gaza, as well as with findings by at least hundreds of jurists and other experts around the world, including in Israel, that the assault on Gaza is genocidal. Observers accuse Israel of ignoring an ICJ order for Israel to avoid acts of genocide.

On Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Council published a draft report that found "reasonable grounds to believe" that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. The report recommended suspending military aid to Israel in light of its numerous violations of international law.

A growing number of Democratic U.S. lawmakers and human rights groups have urged the Biden administration to immediately cut off arms transfers to Israel, citing its illegal conduct in Gaza, including mass killing and destruction and the blocking of lifesaving humanitarian aid.

Also on Monday, Palestine defenders rallied in Washington, D.C. to protest a visit to the State Department by Gallant and to demand an end to U.S. aid and weapons to Israel. Another high-level Israeli delegation's visit to Washington was canceled Monday after the U.S. abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

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