US acknowledges that Israel likely used its weapons to violate international law

The Biden administration’s recent statements on Israel’s aggression in Gaza may seem significant, but Israel policy shows no significant changes

May 13, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
The Department of Defense submitted a report which stated that Israel’s use of US-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international law (Photo via IDFonline/X)

On May 12, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken uttered words some may have thought impossible for a US official to say during televised interviews: the United States believes that Israel should “get out of Gaza.” He declared that Israeli tactics in Gaza have meant “a horrible loss of life of innocent civilians,” but have failed to meaningfully fight Hamas.

On CBS’s Face the Nation, Blinken was asked about the US withholding bombs to Israel, to which he responded, “We believe two things. One, you have to have a clear, credible plan to protect civilians, which we haven’t seen. Second, we also need to see a plan for what happens after this conflict in Gaza is over. And we still haven’t seen that because what are we seeing right now? We’re seeing parts of Gaza that Israel has cleared of Hamas, where Hamas is coming back, including in the north, including in Khan Younis.”

This marks some of the most scathing criticism that the US has provided against Israel. Thus far however, much like similar US critiques of Israel, very little has changed in terms of material policy.

On May 10, the Department of Defense submitted a report to Congress, which stated that Israel’s use of US-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international law.

“This report seems like the international version of ‘thoughts and prayers:’ admitting there’s a problem but not doing anything meaningful to prevent the further loss of lives,” said Amanda Klasing, National Director of Government Relations at Amnesty International USA. “Despite President Biden’s vague comments earlier this week, his administration today made its position loud and clear: it points fingers and takes swift action when an actor the US government considers an adversary violates international law, but treats the government of Israel as above the law, even while acknowledging the overwhelming evidence that Israeli forces are violating international law and killing Palestinian civilians with US origin weapons on US taxpayer dime.”

Although Biden did pause some weapons shipments to Israel last week over its plans of invasion in Rafah, the tens of thousands of Gazans slaughtered by Israeli forces did not stop the US from signing into law a USD 26 billion aid package to Israel last month.

“In turning a blind eye, the administration is allowing Israel to continue to do so without consequence. Israel’s routine violations have pushed half of Gaza’s population to the brink of famine,” said Abby Maxman, Oxfam America’s President & CEO. “With today’s report, the US will be complicit in even more death and suffering in Gaza.”

However, as Layan Fuleihan and L. Mohammed wrote last week, the US’s recent rhetorical shift against Israel does signify that “the US government does not support the operation in Rafah, and that they want a ceasefire to go through.”