Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital

Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for treatment after an Israeli attack on July 9, 2024 in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza.

(Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Critics of US Complicity in Gaza Genocide Slam State Department Report

While the report stresses that "Israel has an inherent right to defend itself," a related press release doesn't mention Gaza. One expert said, "I guess they left out the genocide they're arming and funding."

The Biden administration broadly and the State Department in particular have faced intense criticism throughout the U.S.-backed Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, and Wednesday was no exception, as an annual genocide report was sent to Congress.

The State Department report is required under the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018, named for a Holocaust survivor who wrote about his experiences at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald Nazi concentration camps.

A department press release explains that the report "details U.S. interagency efforts to address genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity around the world. It also chronicles whole-of-government work over the past year to promote atrocity prevention programs, protect civilians at risk, and hold perpetrators accountable in places where some of the most heinous crimes have been committed."

"Our government cannot continue cherry-picking what war crimes and genocide they choose to acknowledge."

The Intercept's Prem Thakker shared the department's full three-paragraph statement about the report on social media and pointed out that the two nations mentioned are Sudan, where there is a civil war, and Ukraine, which is battling a Russian invasion.

Notably missing—though mentioned in the report—is Israel's nine-month assault on Gaza, which has been enabled by U.S. diplomatic and weapons support, and is the subject of a South Africa-led genocide case before the International Court of Justice.

Responding to Thakker's posts, Assal Rad, an expert in Middle East history, said, "I guess they left out the genocide they're arming and funding."

Justice Democrats declared: "This is shameful. Our government cannot continue cherry-picking what war crimes and genocide they choose to acknowledge—especially not when we're the ones funding it."

The 23-page report includes three paragraphs on Israel and Gaza:

Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that has vowed to annihilate Israel and repeat the October 7, 2023 massacre, during which it murdered almost 1,200 Israelis, took more than 240 people hostage, and committed horrific acts of sexual violence. In response, Israel has engaged in military actions in Gaza with the stated intent of defending itself against future Hamas attacks. By the end of the reporting period, tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and over a million displaced as a result of Israel's military actions.

Israel has an inherent right to defend itself consistent with international law, in response to the October 7 attack, and the United States has made clear that Israel has a moral obligation and a strategic imperative to protect civilians, investigate allegations of any wrongdoing, and ensure accountability for any abuses or violations of international human rights law and violations of [international humanitarian law, or IHL]. As President [Joe] Biden stated in his 2024 State of the Union address: "Israel has an added burden because Hamas hides and operates among the civilian population. But Israel also has a fundamental responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Gaza. This war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined." Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken has urged Israel to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties and has consistently reiterated at the highest levels that Israel's military operations in Gaza must comply with IHL.

The Department of State provides a variety of assistance for those impacted in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza through U.N. Women, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, U.N. Development Program, U.N. Population Fund, U.N. Children's Fund, Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, other U.N. agencies, and international organizations that operate in Israel and Gaza. Additionally, the Department of State hosted U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten in March to discuss her report and recommendations following her fact-finding visit to Israel and the West Bank regarding allegations of [gender-based violence].

As of Wednesday, Israel's war has killed at least 38,243 people in Gaza and injured another 88,243, according to health officials in the Hamas-governed Palestinian enclave. Thousands more remain missing and presumed dead. Israeli forces have devastated civilian infrastructure, leaving a trail of bombed-out homes, hospitals, schools, and mosques.

In a letter published in the medical journal The Lancet last week, three public health experts wrote that "applying a conservative estimate of four indirect deaths per one direct death to the 37,396 deaths reported, it is not implausible to estimate that up to 186,000 or even more deaths could be attributable to the current conflict in Gaza."

Israel has also limited the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Although the United Nations has not formally declared a famine, 10 top U.N. experts said Tuesday that "we declare that Israel's intentional and targeted starvation campaign against the Palestinian people is a form of genocidal violence and has resulted in famine across all of Gaza."

Since October, multiple U.S. government employees, including State Department officials, have resigned over the administration's complicity in genocide, including weapons support—which the department previously addressed in a May report to Congress.

The May report—the release of which was blasted as a "Friday news dump"—says that it "is reasonable to assess" that U.S. weapons "have been used by Israeli security forces since October 7 in instances inconsistent with its IHL obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm," but concludes that Israel can continue receiving arms support.

The earlier report also expresses "deep concerns" about Israel's actions regarding relief efforts but states that "we do not currently assess that the Israeli government is prohibiting or otherwise restricting the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance within the meaning of Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act."

Later that month, Stacy Gilbert, one of the State Department officials who resigned, said that "there is consensus among the humanitarian community" that Israel has obstructed relief efforts, adding: "That's why I object to that report saying that Israel is not blocking humanitarian assistance. That is patently false."

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