US Complicity in Israel’s War Crimes Takes Another Step

The Biden administration continues to act contrary to logic and humane values in response to Israel’s war policies. Despite overwhelming evidence of Israel’s war crimes and acts that constitute genocide, the administration plies the right-wing Israeli government with more weapons. The latest arms package being prepared by the administration will reportedly be the largest since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Valued at around $18 billion, it will include 50 F-15 fighter jets and precision-guided munitions kits as well as more 2000- and 500-pound bombs.

Many critics, including some within the administration itself, have pointed with alarm to the obvious contradiction in US policy between supporting negotiations on a cease-fire and hostage release on one hand, and continuing to ship non-defensive weapons to Israel on the other. The contradiction applies not just to the immediate situation in Israel but also to overall US policy on the abuse of military aid—NSM 20—which specifies that arms recipients must adhere to international and American law. Israel, while giving assurances about its use of US weapons, has violated US policy guidelines in numerous ways—for instance, bombing hospitals and other civilian targets with US bombs, and using US-supplied white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza.

Such violations make the US complicit in Israel’s war crimes and genocide, which Oxfam and Human Rights Watch documented in a joint letter submitted to the administration March 13. Just recently, the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian rights condemned Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza and proposed an arms embargo on Israel. If the Biden administration wants to be taken seriously when it demands Israel’s restraint in its Gaza operations, calls for a “sustainable” cease-fire, and insists on Israel’s removal of obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid, it must stop delivery of non-defensive weapons to Israel. Otherwise, such calls lack credibility, undercut any leverage the US might have on Israeli policy, and spotlight the US role in prolonging the war and contributing to the horrific humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective, an international affairs quarterly and blogs at In the Human Interest.