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Responding to reports that the Biden administration has approved a $735 million sale in weapons to Israel, Philippe Nassif, the advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA, said:

“President Biden’s approval of a $735 million offensive arms sale to Israel in the midst of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups directly undermines his commitment to upholding human rights around the world. By supplying weapons that could be used to commit war crimes, the U.S. government is taking the risk of further fueling attacks against civilians and seeing more people killed or injured by U.S.-made weapons.

“Hundreds of civilians, Palestinians and Israelis, have already lost their lives in this conflict. The Biden administration must reconsider its decision to send more weapons into a situation in which human rights and international humanitarian law are violated every day, and if necessary, Congress must oppose this sale.”

Background

On May 9, Amnesty International researchers witnessed an unprovoked attack by Israeli forces against a group of peaceful demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah. The demonstrators were at least 10 meters away from the Israeli forces who were stationed by a nearby Israeli settlers’ home. A short while later Israeli forces launched a coordinated attack to disperse the crowd of Palestinian protesters. 

The armed hostilities have continued to escalate, with Israeli forces carrying out attacks on residential buildings in Gaza killing civilians and Palestinian armed groups launching rockets into Israel. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that civilians have been maimed and killed and homes have been destroyed during this conflict. Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian property and infrastructure are war crimes. 

Amnesty International has called on the UN Security Council to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups with the aim of preventing further serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by the parties to the conflict. All states must immediately suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to the parties, which have failed to properly investigate violations committed in previous conflicts or bring those responsible to justice.