Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the press in Tel Aviv on October 12, 2023.

(Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

'Inexcusable': Amnesty Slams Biden Admin for Delaying Report on Israel's Use of US Weapons

"The Biden administration had months to put together a report on information they should already be collecting."

A leading human rights organization on Wednesday slammed the Biden administration's decision to indefinitely delay the release of a report on whether Israel and other U.S. allies are using American weaponry in compliance with international law.

"The Biden administration had months to put together a report on information they should already be collecting—whether grave human rights violations and other serious violations of international law are being committed using U.S.-provided weapons in seven conflicts around the world," said Amanda Klasing, national director for government relations at Amnesty International USA. "They must release it urgently."

"This is especially urgent," Klasing added, "given the Israeli military's ground operation in Rafah, in the occupied Gaza Strip, where more than 1.4 million Palestinians, including 600,000 children, are sheltering. Burying the head in the sand tactic doesn't make the violations of the government of Israel go away."

Required under a White House policy implemented in February, the report was supposed to be delivered to Congress on May 8.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said during a press briefing Wednesday that the administration will "have it up in the coming days," but declined to offer a specific timeline.

"It is overdue for President Biden to end U.S. complicity with the government of Israel's grave violations of international law."

U.S. President Joe Biden admitted in a CNN interview Wednesday that the Israeli military has killed civilians in Gaza with American-made bombs—something human rights organizations like Amnesty have been documenting for months.

In a research brief submitted to the Biden administration last week, Amnesty detailed three cases in which Israel's military has used U.S.-made weapons in violation of international law. In October, Israeli forces used Joint Direct Attack Munitions manufactured by Boeing to carry out airstrikes on two Gaza homes, killing 43 civilians—including 19 children and 14 women.

While applauding Biden's decision to halt a shipment of thousands of bombs to Israel as it attacks Rafah, Amnesty said Wednesday that it was "inexcusable" for the State Department to postpone the long-awaited report.

"It is overdue for President Biden to end U.S. complicity with the government of Israel's grave violations of international law," said Klasing. "Tough conversations with counterparts in Israel are tragically and clearly not doing the job—violations continue unabated, and civilians are paying the price with their lives."

It's unclear why the administration was unable to meet its own deadline for providing U.S. lawmakers with the report on Israel's use of American weaponry.

Kevin Martin, the president of Peace Action, argued in an op-ed for Common Dreams on Thursday that the delay "reflects internal divisions within the State Department not just about Israel's fallacious claim of compliance, but what to recommend to the executive branch in terms of possible action against Israel."

An internal State Department memo that leaked last month showed that officials at four of the department's bureaus did not believe the Israeli government's written assurances that its use of American weaponry in Gaza has followed international law.

Several State Department officials have resigned since October over the Biden administration's decision to arm Israel's assault on Gaza, which has killed more than 34,900 people and sparked an appalling humanitarian crisis.

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, said Thursday that the Biden administration's "suspension of massive bombs to Israel is an important but long-overdue acknowledgment that Israel has been using American weapons to indiscriminately kill Palestinian civilians in violation of the most basic laws of war."

"Suspending all weapons transfers to Israel shouldn't be a political tactic," said Whitson, "but rather adhering to long-standing laws that prohibit arming abusers."

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