Biden admin: IDF using US arms lawfully, not blocking Gaza aid
Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip, March 23, 2024. (Photo: IDF)

Washington received written assurances from Jerusalem that the army is acting in compliance with a Feb. 8 presidential memo.

JNS Staff Report
March 26. 2024

The Biden administration has verified that Israel is using U.S.-supplied weaponry in line with international law and is not blocking humanitarian supplies from entering the Gaza Strip, the State Department confirmed on Monday.

“We have had ongoing assessments about their [Israel’s] compliance with international humanitarian law,” spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters at a briefing. “We have not found them to be in violation of international humanitarian law, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or when it comes to the provision of humanitarian assistance.”

Miller also said Washington received written assurances from a “credible high-level official” in Jerusalem that the Israel Defense Forces is acting in compliance with a Feb. 8 memorandum issued by Biden.

Titled “National Security Memorandum on Safeguards and Accountability With Respect to Transferred Defense Articles and Defense Services,” the directive requires that countries receiving military aid from the U.S. declare that they respect international law.

While it doesn’t single out Israel, the memorandum came about after some Democratic senators pressured the administration over the military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

On the day he issued the memorandum, Biden appeared to describe the IDF’s response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre as “over the top,” adding that he was seeking a “sustained pause” in the war against the terrorist group.

According to the memo, Israel, as a country engaged in “active armed conflict,” had 45 days to comply. Other countries were given 180 days. The State Department has until May 8 to provide Congress with a report on Jerusalem’s compliance with the memorandum.

“I should be clear that these assurances are prospective. But of course, our view on them is informed by our ongoing assessments of Israel’s conduct in the war in Gaza,” Miller said on Monday while urging human rights NGOs to submit any “credible allegations about potential violations of international humanitarian law” to the U.S. government.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry told JNS that the statements out of Washington confirmed “what we are saying all the time.”

Some two months ago, the Biden administration also pressed Israel to provide answers regarding incidents in which, it claimed, IDF soldiers operating in Judea and Samaria may have violated the “Leahy Law,” a set of amendments that restrict military aid over human rights concerns.

The Leahy Law states that Pentagon-appropriated funds “may not be used for any training, equipment, or other assistance for a foreign security force unit if the Secretary of Defense has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

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