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Biden Administration Says Israel is Not Violating U.S. Weapons Terms

U.S. President Joe Biden departs the White House in Washington, U.S., for a campaign fundraiser in California, May 9, 2024. 

Craig Hudson | Reuters

The Biden administration said Friday that it was “reasonable to assess” that Israel has violated international law in Gaza, but that it hasn’t violated terms of U.S. weapons agreements.

In a report to Congress, the State Department said it hasn’t verified specific instances that would justify withholding military aid.

“While the U.S. has had deep concerns during the period since October 7 about action and inaction by Israel that contributed significantly to a lack of sustained and predictable delivery of needed assistance at scale, and the overall level reaching Palestinian civilians — while improved — remains insufficient, we do not currently assess that the Israeli government is prohibiting or otherwise restricting the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance” under the Foreign Assistance Act, the report said.

The report also said that Israel has “the knowledge, experience, and tools to implement best practices for mitigating civilian harm in its military operations,” but noted that results in the field, “including high levels of civilian casualties, raise substantial questions” about whether the Israel Defense Forces are “using them effectively in all cases.”

The report also pointed to limitations as far as U.S. access to information from Israel. While Israel provided some information “on request” about specific incidents related to targeting decisions and battled damage assessments, more details are needed, the report said.

“Although we have gained insight into Israel’s procedures and rules, we do not have complete information on how these processes are implemented,” the report noted. “Israel has not shared complete information to verify” whether certain weapons provided by the U.S. had been used in incidents that allegedly violated international humanitarian law.

The report also did not find that the Israeli government is blocking the transport or delivery of humanitarian assistance. “If not for sustained engagement by the United States with the Israeli government at the highest levels, the humanitarian crisis that has persisted for the past several months would have been even more dire,” the report said.

The State Department noted that its assessment is ongoing and that “we will continue to monitor and respond to any challenges to the delivery of aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza moving forward.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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