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Independent Task Force Finds Israeli Violations of U.S. Arms-Transfer Law

April 25, 2024 (EIRNS)—An independent task force of international law, security assistance, and military best practices experts has found, in a report provided to the Biden Administration on April 18, credible evidence of Israeli violations of U.S. arms-transfer laws that must be considered in future decisions on military assistance to Israel. The task force came together in February 2024, following President Biden’s signing of National Security Memorandum 20, which reiterates U.S. laws regarding reporting requirements of violations of human rights by countries that receive U.S. military assistance to include the transfers of arms.

The task force is co-chaired by Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick Department of African Studies; and Josh Paul, Director of Congressional & Public Affairs in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the State Department, until he resigned in October 2023, over his disagreement with the U.S. policy of providing lethal arms to Israel in its war on Gaza. “The final report features 16 clear, credible, and compelling incidents that should certainly be included in the administration’s upcoming reporting to Congress as well as an 18-page appendix of additional incidents worthy of examination,” Erakat and Paul wrote in a press release announcing the report. “It also identifies multiple restrictions on humanitarian assistance, including strikes by the IDF, that trigger Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act (which bars military assistance to states impeding U.S. humanitarian aid) and should be reportable to Congress by the Departments of State and/or Defense under the terms of NSM-20.”

“Our findings were striking,” they continued. “Though Israel has attributed the 34,000 Palestinian casualties, 70% of whom are women and children, to alleged human shielding by Hamas, we found that in 11 out of the 16 incidents we analyzed, Israel did not even publicly identify a military target or attempt to justify the strike. Of the remaining five incidents, Israel publicly named targets with verification in two incidents, but no precautionary warning was given and we assess the anticipated civilian harm was known and excessive.”

The aggregate data cited in the report, they argue, “[demonstrate] a broader context of systematic disregard for fundamental principles of U.S. and international law, due to reliance on the steady and sure flow of U.S. armaments. According to a high-ranking former IDF officer, Israel’s combat could have achieved similar military outcomes ‘with 10% of the destruction [Israel has] caused.’ He attributes this ‘reckless conduct’ to ‘an absolute assumption that the U.S. will continue to arm and finance’” Israel’s military operations.

“The mounting evidence [of Israeli violations of U.S. law] before the Biden administration now pales only in comparison to the humanitarian crisis afflicting Palestinians in Gaza,” they conclude. “As the Task Force’s work demonstrates, the facts could not be more clear. It is now up to the Biden administration to act on them.”