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US report finds Israel 'credible and reliable' concerning international law compliance in Gaza campaign

Report submitted in response to Biden's February security memorandum NSM-20 provoked by Democrat senators

An Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jet releases flares in the sky near the Israeli border with Gaza amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, February 24, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Susana Vera)

The Biden administration announced on Friday that it has deemed Israel's assurances that Israel Defense Forces will adhere to international humanitarian law in its use of U.S. weapons to be "credible and reliable." As a result, the United States will continue to transfer U.S. military arms to Israel to use its ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

However, Biden officials emphasized that the U.S. State Department report also noted it was "reasonable" to believe that since Oct. 7, Israel has used U.S.-supplied weapons in ways that may not align with its international humanitarian law obligations, but that there was a lack of complete information to verify such a statement.

The assessment by the U.S. came in response to a new National Security Memorandum (NSM-20) that President Joe Biden issued in early February which coincided with several Democratic senators expressing concern over Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, specifically regarding Israel's weapons use and its obligation to provide humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

As a result, the U.S. announced its decision to delay a large weapons shipment to Israel after the IDF bgan to launch a series of operations in Rafah, the southern town in Gaza where Hamas battalions still maintain a stronghold.

On Wednesday, during an interview with CNN, Biden threatened to continue withholding the weapons, saying Israel had to choose between completing their war objectives in Rafah or U.S. weapons support. 

“I’ve made it clear to Bibi and the War Cabinet, they’re not going to get our support if, in fact, they go into these population centers,” Biden said during the interview with CNN.

The memorandum also required an investigation to confirm that Israel had not, either directly or indirectly, acted arbitrarily to block, limit, or otherwise hinder the delivery of U.S.-supported humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

While not specifically targeting Israel, the memorandum required the Secretary of State to “obtain credible and reliable written assurances from a representative of the recipient country … that the recipient country will use any such defense articles in accordance with international humanitarian law and, as applicable, other international law.” 

According to Axios news outlet earlier on Friday, the "Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and USAID recommended Blinken conclude that Israel has violated the terms of the national security memorandum,” while U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew and outgoing U.S. Gaza Humanitarian Envoy David Satterfield reportedly sent a memo to Blinken stating that Israel isn’t violating international law. 

Since the beginning of the war in Gaza, Israel has faced allegations from the United Nations and various human rights organizations of obstructing the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, allegations which Israel denies.

Israel has repeatedly released documents to demonstrate that Hamas is illegally confiscating humanitarian aid, and continues to accuse the UN of failing to properly protect and distribute this aid.

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

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