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Israel assures White House that IDF complies with international law in fighting with US weapons in Gaza

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visits IDF troops in northern Gaza (Photo: Ariel Hermoni/MoD)

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant signed a letter assuring the Biden administration that IDF troops are using U.S. weapons in accordance with international law during the war in Gaza. 

The signing of the letter was the result of the fresh National Security Memorandum 20 (NSM-20) signed by U.S. President Joe Biden in early February, which specifically provides "Safeguards and Accountability with Respect to Transferred Defense Articles and Defense Services."

According to the memorandum, certain conditions are imposed on allies receiving military aid from the United States.

The NSM-20 memorandum conditions military aid to all allied nations on “credible and reliable written assurances” of adherence to international law, including international human rights law. In addition, a country that uses U.S. weapons in conflict areas needs to provide “credible and reliable written assurances” that it will “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.”

The need for the memorandum came about after Democrat senators pressured Biden out of concern for Israel’s use of American weapons in Gaza, but was not established for Israel alone.

In the letter, Gallant also agreed that Israel would allow humanitarian aid supported by the U.S. to enter the Gaza Strip without interference.

Washington had requested that Israel sign and submit the letter of agreement by mid-March.

According to Axios new media, unnamed Israeli and U.S. officials said that Israel asked the Biden administration for a letter guaranteeing U.S. commitment to Israel's security, for Israel's right to defend itself and for U.S. military assistance to Israel.

However, the Biden administration reportedly responded that such a request would “require a long process of consultations and negotiations that will not meet the deadline set in the memorandum.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to let Congress know by March 25 if he believes that the commitments signed by Israel are “reliable.”

If not, the supply of American weapons to Israel could be delayed, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Last week, more than three dozen House Democrats wrote to Biden to pressure him regarding Israel’s impending ground operation in Rafah, referencing the security memorandum.

“We write to express our deep sense of urgency and alarm about the potentially devastating consequences to innocent civilians of an Israeli military ground invasion of Rafah,” the House Democrats wrote.

“We wish to highlight that further expansion into Rafah would likely contravene the principles set forth in NSM-20. The memorandum emphasizes the importance of credible assurances from recipient countries that they will use U.S. weapons in adherence with international humanitarian law… As contemplated by the Administration’s policy, a ground invasion that runs counter to the specific principles outlined in NSM-20 should not be supported by U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance."

The letter to Biden continued: "We urge you to use every tool at your disposal to ensure that the norms of American and international law are observed throughout this conflict and that all recipients of U.S. aid are held accountable to the commitments demanded by NSM-20."

"Peace is an urgent moral and political imperative, and strict adherence to international humanitarian law will help guide us on the road to peace,” they added.

The town of Rafah, located in the southern part of the Strip near the Egyptian border, is the last major Gaza stronghold of the Hamas terror organization, according to Israel Defense Forces.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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