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US to check whether Israel violated laws of war in Gaza Strip

US to check whether Israel violated laws of war in Gaza Strip Israel may have used weapons against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip (photo: Getty Images)

The Biden administration has not yet concluded that Israel has violated international laws of war, but the assessment processes are ongoing and have not yet yielded a conclusion, states State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

According to him, the administration is required to submit a report to the US Congress by May 8 under the February National Security Memorandum. The document reminds countries receiving American weapons of the need to adhere to international law and not to block humanitarian aid.

"But those are processes that are very much ongoing; they didn’t start with the letter. They were – as I said, they were going on before, and they’ll continue. And the next step is we are due to provide Congress a report – this is the next thing that’s required by this memo – on May 8th, where we will get into these issues in more detail," Miller said.

The memorandum does not impose new conditions on the use of American military equipment but requires the Biden administration to submit a report to Congress within 90 days on whether countries are meeting these requirements.

Responding to a question about whether American officials will conclude this issue before submitting their report to Congress in early May, Miller said that there is currently an active process to determine what the report will look like.

"This is a brand new process. We've never done one of these reports before," he said.

Last week, Israel provided written assurances, as required by the memorandum, that the weapons provided by the US are not being used to violate humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip.

Why is the US checking Israel

During the military operation against the Islamist movement Hamas, Israel struck and shelled the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of over 32,000 Palestinians, according to the enclave's health authorities.

As the death toll sharply increased and acute food shortages in the densely populated enclave raised concerns of hunger, the behavior of the Israeli military came under heightened scrutiny, with calls to President Biden to impose conditions on the weapons he sends to Israel intensifying.

Washington annually provides military aid to Israel, its long-standing ally, amounting to $3.8 billion. Left-wing Democrats and Arab-American groups criticize the unwavering support of the Biden administration, which, according to them, gives Israel a sense of impunity.

Human rights groups note numerous cases of harm inflicted on the civilian population during the Israeli army's advance into the Gaza Strip. However, the Biden administration has stated that it has not conducted an assessment that would recognize Israel as a violator of international law.

Israel-Hamas war

The Israeli military plans to begin a ground invasion into Rafah near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip. This is the last city under the control of the Palestinian movement Hamas.

However, the US disagrees with Israel's plans. Western countries and Egypt have expressed opposition to the invasion of the city, citing the risk of mass casualties among refugees. In response, Israel has proposed evacuating 1.4 million civilians to humanitarian zones in the central part of the region.

Last week, multilateral talks on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip began in Doha, Qatar.

On March 22, the administration of US President Joe Biden called for an immediate ceasefire in the region for the first time.

On March 25, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip until the end of Ramadan. However, Israel refused to halt its advance on Hamas.

Instead, Tel Aviv agreed to US proposals regarding the exchange of prisoners and hostages.