US State Department
US State DepartmentiStock

The Biden administration said on Friday that it is “reasonable to assess” that US weapons have been used by Israeli forces in Gaza in ways that are “inconsistent” with international humanitarian law but stopped short of officially saying Israel violated the law, CNN reported.

The report, which was drafted by the State Department, said that investigations into potential violations are ongoing but noted that the US does “not have complete information to verify” whether the US weapons “were specifically used” in alleged violations of international humanitarian law.

“Given the nature of the conflict in Gaza, with Hamas seeking to hide behind civilian populations and infrastructure and expose them to Israeli military action, as well as the lack of USG personnel on the ground in Gaza, it is difficult to assess or reach conclusive findings on individual incidents. Nevertheless, given Israel’s significant reliance on US-made defense articles, it is reasonable to assess that defense articles covered under NSM-20 have been used by Israeli security forces since October 7 in instances inconsistent with its IHL obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm,” the report says.

The report also did not find that Israel has withheld humanitarian aid to Gaza in violation of US law.

The report was transmitted to Capitol Hill on Friday afternoon. The administration was required to make a determination on those two matters under a February national security memorandum issued by President Joe Biden.

Weeks later, the White House asked the State Department and the Pentagon for a list of all weapons transfers to Israel that had been planned or were up for approval.

Friday’s report marks the first time the US government had to make an assessment about Israel’s conduct in the seven months of the war with Hamas in Gaza.

Although the report does not find Israel in violation of either of the terms of the memorandum, it is sharply critical of the toll of Israel’s military campaign in the Strip.

The release of the report comes amid tensions between the US and Israel over Israel’s operation in the Gazan city of Rafah.

On Wednesday, Biden warned that he would halt shipments of American weapons to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders a major invasion of the city of Rafah.

Speaking to CNN, Biden said that while the US would continue to provide defensive weapons to Israel, including for its Iron Dome air defense system, other shipments would end should a major ground invasion of Rafah begin.

On Thursday, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller claimed that the US thinks that “a major military operation in Rafah would further weaken Israel's stance in the world. It would further create distance from its partners in the region. We actually share Israel's goal of seeing Hamas defeated and want to see Hamas replaced with a different government structure in Gaza.”

Hours before the release of Friday’s report, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that the US is watching Israel's operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah with concern and wants the Rafah crossing reopened immediately.

"We're obviously watching it with concern, of course, but I wouldn't go so far as to say what we've seen here in the last 24 hours connotes or indicates a broad, large (or) major ground operation," he added.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)