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White House refuses to say if Israel's strikes on Gaza refugee camp were legitimate

November 2, 2023 at 9:18 pm

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 31: A view of a destroyed building as Israeli attacks continue at Al-Shati refugee camp of Gaza City, Gaza on October 31, 2023. ( Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency )

The White House refused to say, Thursday, whether a series of Israeli airstrikes on a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip comport with the laws of war, as UN experts warn of a “brazen violation of international law”, Anadolu Agency reports.

Asked if the Jabalya refugee camp was a legitimate target for Israel to attack, National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby said, “I’m not in a position to say it is or it isn’t.”

As I said, these are questions for the Israeli defence forces. These are their operations, and they, and only they, can speak to their targeting decisions in the way they’re conducting the operations

he said.

“What we are going to do is make sure that they’ve got the tools and capabilities, including our perspectives and lessons that we’ve learned in this kind of warfare as they venture into these operational decisions because they have a legitimate threat by Hamas, an organisation that wants to wipe them off the map. At the same time, because you can do both, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help them minimise civilian casualties and get humanitarian assistance in, ” he added.

Asked if the US bears responsibility for Israel’s strikes because it is continuing to send arms to Tel Aviv amid the ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip, Kirby said,

“We’re not making the targeting decisions. The Israeli defence forces are making the decisions.”

Earlier Thursday, UN experts said Israeli airstrikes on Jabalya are a “brazen violation of international law” and a “war crime”.

The Israeli airstrike on a residential complex in the Jabalya refugee camp is a brazen violation of international law – and a war crime

a group of experts, which constitutes seven UN Special Rapporteurs, said in a statement.

“Attacking a camp sheltering civilians, including women and children, is a complete breach of the rules of proportionality and distinction between combatants and civilians,” they added.

The Israeli military has expanded its air and ground attacks in Gaza, which has been under relentless airstrikes since a cross-border attack by Hamas on 7 October that killed more than 1,400 Israelis.

Nearly 10,600 people have since been killed in the conflict, including at least 9,061 Palestinians.

Basic supplies are running low for the 2.3 million residents in Gaza due to Israel’s “full siege,” in addition to the large number of casualties and displacements.

EXPLAINER – What war crimes laws apply to the Israel-Palestinian conflict?