Israel and Hamas at war, day 217 | Washington criticizes Israel over use of American weapons in Gaza

(Rafah) The United States criticized Israel’s use of American weapons in the Gaza Strip but without suspending their shipment, failing to conclude that the Israeli army violated international humanitarian law, according to a highly anticipated report from the State Department released Friday.

The report states that it is “reasonable to assess” that Israel used weapons in a manner inconsistent with international humanitarian law and therefore US law, but that the United States was unable to achieve this. stage at definitive “conclusions”.

The release of this report was delayed for several days due to debates within the State Department.

It comes shortly after President Joe Biden publicly threatened to suspend the delivery of certain categories of weapons if Israel launches a major offensive in the crowded town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, which he opposes .

The American president himself had mandated the State Department last February to examine whether the use by countries engaged in an active conflict and benefiting from American military aid, including Israel, complied with American law.

This long-term assessment differs from the United States’ decision to suspend delivery last week of a shipment of munitions and bombs intended for Israel.

“The nature of the conflict in Gaza makes it difficult to assess or draw conclusions about individual incidents,” notes the report, which was sent to Congress.

“Nevertheless, given Israel’s significant reliance on U.S.-made defense articles, it is reasonable to estimate that defense articles … have been used by Israeli security forces since the October 7 in cases incompatible with its obligations under international humanitarian law,” the report continues.

However, despite some “serious concerns”, countries receiving US military aid have given “sufficiently credible and reliable guarantees to allow the continued supply” of weapons, the report concludes.

“Colossal humanitarian disaster”


Palestinians pile their belongings on a vehicle as they head towards safer areas in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on May 10.

An Israeli ground offensive on Rafah would lead to a “colossal humanitarian catastrophe”, the UN Secretary General warned on Friday, at a time when military operations against Hamas in this overpopulated city are paralyzing the entry of aid into the strip. from Gaza.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly has ruled that the Palestinians deserve full membership in the organization, granting them some additional rights in the absence of real membership blocked by states. -United.

This symbolic vote, welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, angered Israel. “Violence pays,” responded his head of diplomacy Israel Katz, for whom this vote rewards the Islamist movement Hamas for its attack on October 7.

After more than seven months of incessant Israeli fighting and bombing, indirect talks aimed at securing a truce and avoiding a major offensive on Rafah ended Thursday in Cairo without reaching an agreement.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, assured that Israel would fight “alone” after the threat launched for the first time by the American president, Joe Biden, to stop certain arms deliveries to its ally in the event of an offensive on the city.

Such an operation would lead to a “colossal humanitarian catastrophe”, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned, adding that famine was looming in the Palestinian territory.

Early Friday, AFP correspondents reported artillery fire on this town, the last in southern Gaza before the Egyptian border where some 1.4 million Palestinians are crowded.


Thick black smoke rises above a burning building after an Israeli bombardment in Rafah on May 10.

According to the UN, around 110,000 people have fled since Israel called on the population of eastern Rafah to evacuate on Monday.

“Some 30,000 people are fleeing the city every day,” said in Geneva the head of the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for Gaza, Georgios Petropoulos, most of whom “have already had to move five or six times » since the start of the war.

Like Oum Soubhi, displaced from Gaza City in the north: “At the start of the war, we went to Rafah, then we were displaced several times in the Rafah region because of threats, strikes and violence. scary and terrifying situation, before coming to Nuseirat (center),” she told AFP.

“Extremely difficult”

Some took the path to Khan Younes, a ruined town near Rafah, others wondered where to go in the overpopulated Palestinian territory.

“Tanks, artillery and the sound of bombing are incessant. People are afraid,” Abdel Rahman, a displaced person, told AFP.

Witnesses also reported Friday airstrikes and fighting in Gaza City, where four soldiers were killed by an “explosive device”, according to the army, bringing to 271 the number of soldiers killed since the launch of the Israeli ground offensive at the end of October.

Furthermore, a woman was injured Friday in Beersheba, a large city in southern Israel targeted by two salvos of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip by Hamas, the Israeli army announced.

For months, Mr. Netanyahu has been threatening a major offensive on Rafah to defeat the last Hamas battalions which he claims are grouped there, raising fears of a worsening of the humanitarian crisis in the besieged territory.

Defying international warnings, the army has been carrying out incursions into eastern Rafah since Tuesday and has taken control of the border crossing with Egypt, blocking a key entry point for humanitarian aid convoys.


View of Rafah, May 10

The army said on Friday that it was continuing its “precision anti-terrorist operation” in certain sectors of eastern Rafah, and having “eliminated terrorist cells”.

Despite the reopening on Wednesday of the Kerem Shalom crossing, neighboring Rafah, closed by Israel for three days after Hamas rocket attacks, the delivery of aid remains “extremely difficult”, Andrea De Domenico told AFP , the head of the office of the United Nations humanitarian agency (OCHA) in the Palestinian territories.

On Friday evening, Cogat, the Defense Ministry body overseeing civil affairs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, announced “the transfer of 200,000 liters of fuel to international organizations” via Kerem Shalom.

Agreement still “possible”

The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack against Israel, killing more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data.

More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 128 remain captive in Gaza, of whom 36 are believed to have died, according to the army.

In response, Israel promised to destroy Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, and launched an offensive which has so far left 34,943 dead, according to the Islamist movement’s Ministry of Health.

Egypt urged Hamas and Israel on Friday to show “flexibility”, while efforts by mediator countries (Egypt, Qatar, United States) “continue” towards a truce, despite the departure on Thursday of Cairo of delegations from both camps, according to the Egyptian media Al-Qahera News.

John Kirby assured him that Washington still considered an agreement on a truce in Gaza “possible”.

For Hamas, “Israel’s rejection” of the latest truce proposal brings negotiations “back to square one.”

On Monday, he gave the green light to a truce proposal in three phases of 42 days each according to him, including an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as well as an exchange of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, with a view to a “cease -the permanent fire”.

Israel nevertheless opposes a definitive ceasefire as long as Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union, is not defeated.


Leave a Comment