• Press Release

Amnesty International USA Urges Senators to Pass Resolution 504

January 16, 2024

View of the Capitol dome and building in Washington DC taken from the tower of the Old Post Office
(Steven Heap/The Image Bank via Getty)
Amnesty International USA urges Senators to vote in favor of Senate Res.504 introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders under Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act. If passed, the resolution would require a report from the State Department on the Israeli government’s human rights practices within thirty days. 

Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act is one of the most powerful tools Congress has to exercise human rights oversight on the executive, including through mandating annual country reports on human rights practices. Over the past year, members of Congress have looked to this lesser-known section of the law as a means to ensure elected representatives in Congress have access to the best information available to consider whether U.S. taxpayers are funding violations of international law.  

One hundred days after the Hamas-led attacks on October 7 and the Israeli military campaign that followed, a meaningful debate on U.S. support for Israeli operations in Gaza and the West Bank is needed, including the extent to which U.S. military funding may be supporting violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. This resolution would provide a first step to ensuring that the U.S. is collecting and reporting data relevant to such a debate. 

“In their stated intent to use all means to destroy Hamas, Israeli forces have shown a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They have killed civilians on a mass scale and pulverized street after street of residential buildings and essential infrastructure,” said Paul O’Brien, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. “Indiscriminate attacks, direct attacks on civilian objects, collective punishment are all war crimes. Under these circumstances, members of Congress must vote yes for a resolution that simply asks the State Department to provide relevant information and reporting for Congress to have effective oversight on whether the United States is contributing arms or assistance enabling violations of international law.” 

Amnesty International has found damning evidence of war crimes as Israeli attacks wiped out entire families in Gaza. In two specific unlawful attacks on homes full of civilians in Gaza, which killed 43 civilians – 19 children, 14 women and 10 men, the Israeli military used US-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM).  

“The United States has an outsized role and responsibility to do everything in its power to ensure civilians are protected, and this resolution as the State Department to ask and answer questions regarding civilian harm,” continued O’Brien. “This is the minimum step required. The U.S. must also suspend the supply, sale, or transfer of weapons until there is no longer a risk they will be used unlawfully. The U.S. government must also make clear that it will not tolerate the perpetuation of war crimes or crimes against humanity with weapons it has provided to the Israeli government including the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.”  

S.Res.504 offers an opportunity to affirm Congress’s important oversight role, mandating that the Biden administration document and report on any human rights violations committed by the Israeli government. Congress should ensure that arms transfers and military aid provided to Israel, or any country, are consistent with U.S. law and policy, international law, and civilian protection responsibilities. Senator Sanders’ resolution would be an important step toward these goals.  

“Senators must be moved by the cataclysmic devastation in Gaza by the Israeli government over the last 100 days and consider their own responsibility and culpability if the U.S. continues to provide weapons used to commit war crimes,” concluded O’Brien. 


Amnesty International also condemns the war crimes committed by Hamas and other armed groups on October 7, including hostage-taking and deliberate killing of civilians, and their continued indiscriminate rocket attacks.  

The organization has repeatedly called for the investigation of violations of international law by all parties and for an immediate sustained ceasefire, unimpeded access to humanitarian aid, the release of hostages held by armed groups in Gaza, the release of Palestinians arbitrarily detained by Israel and for Israel to end its illegal and inhumane siege of Gaza.   

Amnesty International is also calling for a comprehensive UN Security Council arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and other armed groups that covers the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and military material, including related technologies, parts and components, technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance. 

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