Biden Moves To Attach Conditions On Israel Using US Weapons In Gaza 

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 - 02:05 PM

The Biden White House has clearly been struggling to both maintain a coherent Gaza policy that will satisfy Democrats - progressives among them - while also holding to the longtime US stance that Israel has a right to defend itself. But the Palestinian death toll is now nearing 30,000 - according to Gaza Health Ministry figures - which is creating immense pressure on Washington, both internationally and at home.

So far throughout the war on Hamas, Biden has refused to attach conditions on the defense aid transferred to Israel. All the while it's been clear that the bulk of weaponry and bombs which land on civilians are supplied by the US. But the US administration now finally appears ready to give the Netanyahu government an ultimatum (at least "on paper" that is).

Axios reports in an exclusive, "The Biden administration gave Israel until mid-March to sign a letter, provided by the U.S. on Tuesday, that gives assurances it will abide by international law while using U.S. weapons and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, three U.S. and Israeli officials told Axios."

Via AP

Israel has 45 days to sign the letter giving these 'assurances'. Likely, Israel will have no problem doing so based on giving pledges to protect civilian life - but whether it actually does so is of course another question. Israel has long claimed that it doesn't attack civilians, and says it acts within conventional international rules of warfare. 

But here's what the letter is really all about:

The Joe Biden administration is requiring all countries that receive US military aid, including Israel, to agree to not commit war crimes using American gear. The White House crafted the pledge to prevent Congress from placing restrictions on a massive military aid package for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as some lawmakers press for greater accountability for US arms transfers. According to rights groups, Israeli forces have used American-made weapons to commit a number of suspected war crimes in Gaza. 

According to the national security memorandum

It also stresses that a country that uses U.S. weapons in conflict areas needs to provide "credible and reliable written assurances" that it will "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."

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who has led efforts in the Senate for the US to attach humanitarian conditions to the lethal aid provided to Israel, has said: "We did it to make sure we have an accountability structure and that U.S. security assistance aligns with both our values and our interests."

There's long been speculation that if Washington shut off the weapons and munitions pipeline to Tel Aviv, the Israeli Army would quickly run out of munitions and would hardly be able to execute its war against Hamas in retaliation for Oct.7 and to free the hostages. Israel is also on a war footing with Hezbollah in the north, and a full front could open up there at any moment.

Israel is keenly aware of its damaged reputation internationally given the immense civilian death toll, and now the possibility of famine and mass starvation. 

On Wednesday, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari issued a statement to a world Jewish humanitarian organization which stressed Israel is "fighting against Hamas, not against the people of Gaza."

"Our aim in this war, our main mission, is to rescue our hostages but also make sure that the citizens of Gaza are free from Hamas,” he continued. "We are dismantling the military framework of Hamas from the north to the south. We already dismantled 18 battalions out of 24 and we are finishing the others, the last four are in Rafah."

He further pledged that the some 1.4 million civilians in Rafah will be moved to a "safer zone" ahead of the all-out military assault of the southern city, believed to be coming by at least early March.