Israel claims using US weaponry in 'accordance with international law' in new letter

Israel claims using US weaponry in 'accordance with international law' in new letter
If the US finds that Israel has violated international law concerning the use of US weaponry, Washington could stop providing arms to its ally.
3 min read
15 March, 2024
The US has provided millions of dollars of military assistance to Israel, much to the dismay of the US public [Getty/file photo]

Israel’s Minister of Defence has reportedly "assured" the United States that Tel Aviv will use Washington-provided weapons in "accordance with international law".

Yoav Gallant signed a letter on Thursday to President Joe Biden confirming the above, while also stating that Israel "will allow US-humanitarian aid into Gaza", reported Axios, citing US and Israeli officials.

According to the US website, the Biden administration requested that Israel provide a signed letter of assurances by mid-March, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has until March 25 to verify the credibility of Israel’s signed commitment.

If the US doesn’t approve and certification isn’t given, Washington will then halt sending military assistance to Israel.

Israel had given Gallant the letter to sign last Sunday, but he only signed it on Thursday, Axios said.

The letter of assurances became a requirement under a national security memorandum last month issued by President Biden. However, the new policy doesn't single out Israel, though it was issued after a number of Democrats voiced concern over Israel’s use of weaponry in Gaza.

Tel Aviv has waged a deadly war in the enclave since October 7, killing at least 31,490 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

Israel has been accused of carrying out war crimes and genocide-like atrocities in the enclave, prompting South Africa to take Tel Aviv to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over such actions.

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The national security memorandum, published on February 8, states that prior to supplying US weapons, a country must provide Washington with "credible and reliable written assurances" that it will use any such weapons "in accordance with international humanitarian law."

The letter also emphasises that the country in question must "facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance and United States Government-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance."

Israel has also asked the Biden administration to add to the written assurances an additional commitment that stresses US commitment to Israel's security, for Israel's right to defend itself and for US military assistance to Israel, Axios added.

Despite signing such a letter of assurance Israel has repeatedly used US weapons to kill Palestinians in Gaza throughout its military onslaught.

In December, it was reported that Tel Aviv had used US-manufactured Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) in two deadly and unlawful strikes on civilian homes.

Amnesty International found that the strike could warrant an investigation into potential war crimes, as the attack targeted civilians or civilian objects.

The strike killed 43 Palestinian civilians, including 19 children.

The Biden administration has reportedly provided over 100 "small weapons packages" to Tel Aviv since October 7, possibly amounting to over $1 billion worth of US military aid.

Israel has also been accused of deliberately denying humanitarian assistance to Gazans, after multiple reports of "systematically" blocking aid convoys.

The ICJ also accused Israel of violating its order by blocking the delivery of aid in the territory, particularly in the hard-hit northern part of Gaza.

Despite providing Israel with military assistance, the US has recently criticised Tel Aviv on a number of occasions for its conduct in the Gaza Strip while Biden has expressed discontent with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly over his rejection of a two-state solution for the Palestinian territories.