Sunday, May 12, 2024

Israel may has acted inconsistently with international humanitarian law

A US Department of State report summary claims that Israel may have used US-provided weaponry in an “inconsistent” manner with international humanitarian law (IHL) obligations but could not conclude whether US weaponry was used in specific incidents, reported Jurist.

The State Department’s NSM-20 report acknowledged that the US government received allegations of Israeli IHL violations since Hamas’ October 7 attacks from “[c]redible UN, NGO, and media sources.” Further, the State Department wrote that “certain Israeli-operated systems are entirely U.S.-origin (e.g., crewed attack aircraft) and are likely to have been involved in incidents that raise concerns about Israel’s IHL compliance.”

However, the State Department could not assess whether US weaponry was used in specific high-profile incidents, such as the Israeli attack on a World Central Kitchen convoy that killed seven humanitarian workers. The US reported that Israel’s information sharing regarding the use of US weapons has been limited and claimed that Hamas’s tendency to embed themselves in civilian populations makes it difficult to ascertain whether individual strikes violate international law.

Despite expressing concerns about Israel’s “action and inaction” that hampered the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza, the US acknowledged that Israel made steps such as opening the Kerem Shalom border crossing to allow more aid into the enclave. Thus, the US did not conclude that Israel is “prohibiting or otherwise restricting the transport or delivery of [US] humanitarian assistance” to Gaza.

The NSM-20 report also described the compliance of US partners Colombia, Iraq, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ukraine with IHL, concluding that, while IraqiKenyanNigerian and Ukranian security forces may have been involved in human rights violations, no US weaponry sent to those countries was used in such breaches.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has drawn international scrutiny for its impact on civilians in both Israel and Gaza. Following Hamas’s October 7 attacks where more than 1,100 Israelis were killed and more than 250 taken hostage, Israel launched an offensive on Gaza that has reportedly led to the death of 30,000 Palestinians. In January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to take “all measures within its power” to prevent breaches of the Genocide Convention in Gaza following a complaint by South Africa. Then in March, the ICJ directed Israel to take all necessary measures to ensure the flow of humanitarian aid into the enclave.

Israel carried out strikes on the Gazan city of Rafah on Monday amid international concerns that Israel may invade the city, where 1.4 million people are sheltering.

US President Joe Biden issued memorandum NSM-20 in February, requiring the Departments of State and Defense to produce reports for various congressional committees describing whether US weapons and defense services are being used in compliance with IHL.

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