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State Department criticizes Israel’s attempts at ‘mitigating civilian harm’ in Gaza war: report

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May 11, 2024

The U.S. State Department on Friday criticized Israel’s use of U.S-supplied arms in a way that may be “inconsistent” in “mitigating civilian harm” in the war in Gaza. 

A report obtained by Fox News Digital, which was sent to Congress on Friday, admitted that “Israel has had to confront an extraordinary military challenge: Hamas has embedded itself deliberately within and underneath the civilian population to use civilians as human shields.”

The report added that “it is often difficult to determine facts on the ground in an active war zone of this nature and the presence of legitimate military targets across Gaza.”

Nearly 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, including many women and children, according to the Palestinian government. 

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The report was commissioned by President Biden to assess if Israel and other U.S. allies are adhering to international humanitarian law. 

Israeli officials have said the country is complying with international law “and have identified a number of processes for ensuring compliance that are embedded at all levels of their military decision-making,” the report said, including giving advanced warnings, using specific weapons and avoiding places like schools, hospitals and places of worship.

“Although we have gained some insight into Israel’s procedures and rules, we do not have complete information to verify whether” U.S. arms “were specifically used in actions that have been alleged as violations of [international humanitarian law] or international human rights law during the period of the report,” the report continued. “The nature of the conflict in Gaza makes it difficult to assess or reach conclusive findings on individual incidents.”

It said, however, that the United Nations, humanitarian organizations and international humanitarian law experts “have reported Israeli civilian harm mitigation efforts as inconsistent, ineffective, and inadequate, failing to provide protection to vulnerable civilians who cannot or chose not to relocate.”

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Israel has the capability, experience and tools to mitigate civilian harm, the report said, adding, however, “the results on the ground, including high levels of civilian casualties, raise substantial questions as to whether the IDF is using them effectively in all cases.” 

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Despite misgivings, the State Department said it found Israel’s assurances that it had followed international law in the use of U.S. weapons “credible and reliable” and will continue supplying arms. 

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