Israel's use of US weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law, Biden administration finds

10 May 2024, 22:34 | Updated: 11 May 2024, 00:46

Israel likely violated international law in its use of US weapons in Gaza, the American government has found
Israel likely violated international law in its use of US weapons in Gaza, the American government has found. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Israel's use of US-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law, a report by the American government has found.

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The report was unable to immediately link any specific strikes by Israel in Gaza using US weapons that may have been in breach of international law.

However, there is "reasonable" evidence that suggests Israel has breached international law in its conduct in Gaza since the war broke out in the wake of Hamas' terror attacks on October 7.

The report said: "Given Israel's significant reliance on US-made defence articles, it is reasonable to assess that defence articles have been used by Israeli security forces since 7 October in instances inconsistent with its international humanitarian law obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm."

The report does stop short of stating that Israel has violated the terms under which it is able to use American weapons in Gaza.

It also acknowledges the "extraordinary military challenge" faced by Israel in fighting Hamas in Gaza.

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US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden. Picture: Getty

On Thursday, the US President Joe Biden warned Israel that its weapons supply would be cut off in the event of a full-scale offensive in Rafah.

More than one million Palestinians are sheltering in the southern region, where the Israeli government is planning to launch an invasion in a bid to "wipe out" Hamas.

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Today's long-awaited report highlighted the knowledge, experience and tools Israel has to ensure civilian casualties are minimised in its military operations in Gaza.

However, evidence raises "substantial questions whether the IDF is using them effectively in all cases", the report stated.

The findings come as relations between Mr Biden and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, continue to strain over Israel's approach to fighting Hamas.

After Mr Biden's threat to withdraw the supply of US weapons, Mr Netanyahu admitted Israel may have to act alone as it wages its war in Gaza.

Israel has faced accusations of preventing humanitarian aid from getting into Gaza in recent months.

However, today's report concluded that aid is not being restricted by the Israeli government.

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Israel launched its offensive after an October 7 assault into Israel, led by Hamas, killed about 1,200 people.

Two-thirds of the Palestinians killed since then have been women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Israel says it is following all US and international law, that it investigates allegations of abuse by its security forces and that its campaign in Gaza is proportional to the existential threat it says is posed by Hamas.