Sanders condemns US denial of Israeli law violations amid UN draft report on Israel meeting the threshold for genocide in Gaza

Sanders, in his critique, highlighted the discord between the State Department's position and the realities on the ground.

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Image Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Bernie Sanders has vocally criticized the U.S. State Department’s recent assertion that Israel is not breaching international laws with its ongoing operations in the Gaza Strip, labeling the claim as patently “absurd.” This stark rebuke comes against the backdrop of escalating violence in Gaza, which has seen significant civilian casualties and widespread infrastructure devastation over the past six months.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has intensified, with reports indicating that Israeli forces have inflicted severe damage upon the territory, resulting in the deaths of 32,000 Palestinians, nearly two-thirds of whom were women and children. The scale of the destruction extends to housing and medical facilities, leaving a substantial portion of the population in dire need of aid and facing starvation.

During a press briefing, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller defended the Biden administration’s stance, stating there was no evidence to suggest Israel’s actions contravened international humanitarian laws. This includes the utilization of American-provided weaponry and the allowance of U.S. humanitarian aid into Gaza, despite the territory’s acute hunger crisis.

Sanders, in his critique, highlighted the discord between the State Department’s position and the realities on the ground. He underscored the extensive loss of life and infrastructure, asserting that the current U.S. policy stance undermines legal and congressional assurances.

The debate centers around the Biden administration’s NSM-20 policy, which mandates that recipients of American military aid must furnish “credible and reliable” assurances of compliance with all relevant laws and policies. A group of U.S. senators, including Sanders, recently cautioned the administration, arguing that accepting Israeli assurances would contravene the essence of NSM-20 and set a problematic precedent globally.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza has exacerbated the humanitarian situation, with instances of U.S.-funded aid shipments being obstructed. Despite repeated calls from human rights organizations for an arms embargo on Israel, the U.S. continues to provide substantial military support without imposing stringent conditions.

Jeremy Konyndyk, a prominent figure in humanitarian advocacy, echoed Sanders’ sentiments, challenging the efficacy of the U.S.’s approach to addressing the famine in Gaza. He criticized the administration for its reliance on superficial measures while a key ally impedes crucial aid efforts, urging a decisive stance to mitigate the humanitarian crisis.

The ongoing conflict and its resultant humanitarian crisis have drawn widespread international attention, with a recent draft UN report finding “reasonable grounds to believe” that Israel’s actions in Gaza may constitute genocide. This damning assessment aligns with the dire situation reported by Palestinian and international humanitarian officials, which details massive casualties, widespread displacement, and a rapid escalation of disease and starvation due to the siege and blockade.

Israel has dismissed the report, maintaining its defensive posture regarding military operations in Gaza. Meanwhile, the international community, including the U.S., grapples with the complex interplay of legal, ethical, and humanitarian considerations in responding to the crisis.

Sanders concluded, “The State Department’s position makes a mockery of U.S. law and assurances provided to Congress.”

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