• Press Release

Biden Disappoints in Visit to Israel, Fails to De-escalate Violence and Protect Human Rights

October 18, 2023

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

In response to President Biden’s trip to Israel and his comments this morning, Paul O’Brien, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement:

“President Biden had an opportunity to prevent the further loss of life in the face of grave human suffering and make clear that the US will hold all parties, including its allies, to account for any violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

“Given the unique influence of the U.S. in this moment, the President should have worked to de-escalate the violence and protect all civilians following the loss of life of thousands, and the deaths of hundreds yesterday at Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arab hospital. He should have insisted on the importance of upholding international law by all parties, in no uncertain terms.

“Instead, the President maintained unreserved support for the Israeli government’s actions in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank and committed what appears to be further unconditional military support, without emphasizing the vital importance of upholding international human rights and humanitarian law. The announcement that life-saving humanitarian aid will be delivered to Gaza is welcome news, and President Biden’s attention to urgently secure the release of Israeli civilian hostages held by Hamas is essential.

“But more must be done. The U.S. must urge the Israeli government to immediately end its siege on Gaza, restore water, food, fuel and electricity, and rescind its evacuation order.”

Additional information regarding Amnesty’s current research:

Amnesty International is an impartial human rights organization that undertakes research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of human rights. In the context of armed conflicts, we seek to ensure that all parties comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, which include the prohibition of direct attacks on civilians, of murder, of hostage-taking, of indiscriminate attacks, and of collective punishment of the civilian population.

Amnesty has already found the Israeli government’s cut to Gaza’s electricity supply will have a severe impact on essential services and access to clean water, and will cause a public health disaster leaving Gaza’s already depleted hospitals without vital medical equipment at a time when medics are struggling to treat thousands gravely wounded from Israeli military attacks. Amnesty has also found that the government of Israel’s evacuation order cannot be considered an effective warning and may amount to forced displacement of the civilian population.

Amnesty International’s research has found that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups flagrantly violated international law and displayed a disregard for human life by carrying out mass summary killings, hostage-taking, and launching indiscriminate rocket attacks into Israel. With evidence still emerging of the horrors that unfolded in southern Israel, Amnesty International will continue its investigations in order to determine the full range of crimes under international law.

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