Report into whether Israel broke international law in Gaza ‘indefinitely delayed’ by Biden administration

US law prohibits aiding foreign security forces which are found to have committed gross violations of human rights

Katie Hawkinson
Washington, DC
Tuesday 07 May 2024 21:59 BST
Related Video: White House pressed on how Biden can end Gaza famine

President Joe Biden’s administration has indefinitely delayed a report investigating potential Israeli war crimes in Gaza, according to a Politico report that cites four sources with insider knowledge.

The development comes after the US State Department was expected to release the report on Wednesday.

If the State Department were to find that Israel violated international humanitarian law, the US may have to stop sending foreign aid. Under the Leahy Law, the US government cannot aid foreign security forces found committing “gross violations of human rights.”

President Joe Biden, pictured speaking on 7 May 2024. A new report reveals his administration has indefinitely halted an investigation into potential Israeli war crimes
President Joe Biden, pictured speaking on 7 May 2024. A new report reveals his administration has indefinitely halted an investigation into potential Israeli war crimes (AP)

Democratic Senator Peter Welch, an outspoken critic of the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) conduct in Gaza, called on the Biden administration to halt Israeli aid on Tuesday. He argued the US is already in violation of the Leahy Law.

“We write with concern regarding the US government’s failure to apply the Leahy Law consistently to all recipients of US security assistance,” Mr Welch wrote in a letter co-signed by eight other lawmakers.

“Recent articles documented that successive administrations have neglected to implement the Leahy Law in Israel,” he continued.

Last week, dozens of lawmakers also called on the Biden administration to reconsider aid to Israel.

A coalition of 88 Democratic members wrote to the White House on Friday, arguing that Israel’s “restrictions on US-backed humanitarian aid efforts have contributed to an unprecedented humanitarian disaster for Palestinian civilians and to credible reports of famine in parts of Gaza.”

Last month, the White House said future US aid was contingent on Israel announcing “a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers.”

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have taken control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, which borders Egypt in southern Gaza, the Israeli military confirmed.

The Palestinian health ministry says Israel’s continued assault on Gaza has killed almost 35,000 people, most of whom were women and children. The United Nations also says that restrictions on humanitarian aid have created a “man-made famine,” with half the 2.3 million strong population of the strip at catastrophic levels of hunger.

The attacks on Gaza come after 7 October, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking another 250 people hostage.

Also this week, Hamas accepted a proposed ceasefire deal over the war in Gaza. Israel, however, has rejected it and talks over a truce are said to be continuing.

The Independent has contacted the National Security Council and the State Department for comment.

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