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Israel Under Pressure Over Alleged Breach Of International Law

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The US government has raised concerns over possible breach of international law by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in prosecuting the war against Hamas in Gaza using US-supplied weapons.

The US State Department in a report submitted to Congress on Friday, noted that it was “reasonable to assess” that those arms have been used in ways “inconsistent” with Israel's obligations.

It, however, noted that the US did not have complete information in its assessment and that shipments could continue.

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Israel is one of the seven countries where the White House ordered a review into how they have used US-supplied arms since the start of last year.

Although the report was a clear condemnation of some Israeli operations in Gaza, it stopped short of definitively saying that the Israel's IDF campaign had breached international law.

Israel had had to confront an “extraordinary military challenge” fighting Hamas in Gaza, it said.

The report said further that assurances it had received from Israel about adhering to the legal use of US weapons were “credible and reliable”.

The document also condemned Hamas saying that it “uses civilian infrastructure for military purposes and civilians as human shields”, adding that it was often “difficult to determine facts on the ground in an active war zone” of what are legitimate targets.

Israel relies so much on US weapons and may have used them “in instances inconsistent with its IHL [international humanitarian law] obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm”.

It added that “Israel has the knowledge, experience, and tools to implement best practices for mitigating civilian harm in its military operations”, but that “results on the ground, including high levels of civilian casualties, raise substantial questions as to whether the IDF is using them effectively in all cases”.

The report said the UN and humanitarian organisations had described Israeli efforts to mitigate civilian harm as “inconsistent, ineffective and inadequate”.

The State Department found that Israel did not fully co-operate with US efforts to “maximise” humanitarian aid into Gaza in the initial months of the conflict. It said, however, that this situation had changed.

More than 80,000 people have reportedly fled Rafah since Monday, the UN said, with Israeli tanks reportedly massed close to built-up areas amid constant bombardment.

Israeli troops took control and closed the Rafah crossing with Egypt at the start of their operation, while the UN said it was too dangerous for its staff and lorries to reach the reopened Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel.

Israel declared war on Hamas in Gaza after the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on 7 October, 2023 killing 1,200 and taking 252 others hostage.

Over 34,900 people have been killed and about 77,000 others injured in Gaza since then, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry.


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