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State Department Split over Seeing War Crimes, If by Israel

April 28, 2024 (EIRNS)—Not only are individual officials leaving the State Department over Biden Administration support for Israel’s war, but there are also major divisions in the entire Department over whether Israel violations of U.S. law regarding the use of U.S.-supplied weapons and other military support, according to Reuters April 28. It examined the submissions of at least seven State Department bureaus preparing a response to President Biden’s February 8 National Security Memorandum, under which Secretary of State Blinken must report to Congress by May 8, whether Israel’s assurances that its use of U.S. weapons does not violate U.S. or international law, are credible. “Some components in the department favored accepting Israel’s assurances, some favored rejecting them and some took no position,” a U.S. official said.

A joint submission from four bureaus—Democracy Human Rights & Labor; Population, Refugees and Migration; Global Criminal Justice and International Organization Affairs—raised “serious concern over non-compliance” with international humanitarian law during Israel’s prosecution of the Gaza war, reported Reuters. The assessment from the four bureaus said Israel’s assurances were “neither credible nor reliable.” It cited eight examples of Israeli military actions that the officials said raise “serious questions” about potential violations of international humanitarian law. These included repeatedly striking protected sites and civilian infrastructure; “unconscionably high levels of civilian harm to military advantage”; taking little action to investigate violations or to hold to account those responsible for significant civilian harm and “killing humanitarian workers and journalists at an unprecedented rate.”

The assessment from the four bureaus also cited 11 instances of Israeli military actions the officials said “arbitrarily restrict humanitarian aid,” including rejecting entire trucks of aid due to a single “dual-use” item, “artificial” limitations on inspections as well as repeated attacks on humanitarian sites that should not be hit.

Another submission reviewed by Reuters, from the bureau of Political and Military Affairs, which deals with U.S. military assistance and arms transfers, warned Blinken that suspending U.S. weapons would limit Israel’s ability to meet potential threats outside its airspace and require Washington to re-evaluate “all ongoing and future sales to other countries in the region.” Any suspension of U.S. arms sales would invite “provocations” by Iran and aligned militias, this bureau said in its submission. And inputs to the memo from the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew, assessed Israel’s assurances as credible and reliable.

State’s USAID also provided input to the memo. “The killing of nearly 32,000 people, of which the GOI (Government of Israel) itself assesses roughly two-thirds are civilian, may well amount to a violation of the international humanitarian law requirement,” USAID officials wrote in the submission.