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Cut the supply line of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, says rights group

May 28, 2024 at 2:59 pm

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather to show solidarity with Palestinians during a hearing near the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on May 24, 2024 in The Hague, Netherlands [Nikos Oikonomou – Anadolu Agency]

With the aim of “genocide prevention by third states, companies and civil society actors” in Gaza, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) has released a detailed report exposing corporate and state actors that are supplying jet fuel to the Israeli military and examines the legal ramifications of their actions.

Since its establishment in 1973, SOMO has been conducting investigations into the impacts and enablers of unjustified corporate power. Titled ‘Fuelling the flames in Gaza’, the publication by authors Lydia De Leeuw and Misa Norigami is timed to inform efforts to prevent corporate involvement in war crimes and other international crimes being perpetrated by Israel in Gaza, while also supporting the prevention of genocide in the besieged enclave. The report aims to raise awareness about corporate complicity in war crimes and other crimes under international law being committed in Gaza.

It reveals that the US is a primary supplier of military jet fuel (JP-8) to Israel, with US company Valero being a key provider under contracts with the American government. Valero’s JP-8 is transported from Corpus Christi port in Texas to Ashkelon, Israel, by vessels owned by Overseas Shipholding Group, which is directly contracted by the Israeli government.

According to SOMO’s findings, Israel heavily relies on imported jet fuel to sustain its military aerial operations over Gaza. The country has been receiving regular shipments from the US for years, with at least six shipments of JP-8 since October 2023. Data from the US Energy Information Administration confirms continuous exports of kerosene-type jet fuel to Israel, averaging approximately 1.5 million barrels per year, with spikes in 2014 and 2016.

The report highlights that between October and December 2023 alone, the Israeli Air Force carried out 10,000 air strikes across the densely populated Gaza Strip. These air strikes included the dropping of approximately five hundred 2,000-pound bombs, which can kill or injure people over 1,000 feet away from the point of impact. As a result, more than 20,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, were killed in that period.

SOMO argues that companies supplying jet fuel to Israel may be considered to be providing material support to the Israeli military. The extensive public reporting on the impact of air strikes on Gaza and credible evidence of air strikes constituting war crimes puts these companies at risk of legal liability for their involvement.

Under international law, companies can be held liable for complicity in war crimes if they provide material support that substantially contributes to the commission of the crimes and if they have knowledge of the crimes. SOMO contends that the widely available public information means that all companies involved in supplying military jet fuel to Israel have knowledge of the foreseeable harmful effects of their actions.

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The report cites several legal precedents, such as the case of Frans van Anraat, a Dutch businessman who was convicted of complicity in war crimes for selling chemicals to the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein, which were used in mustard gas attacks on Kurdish minorities. Another ongoing case involves French company Lafarge, accused of complicity in crimes against humanity in Syria for allegedly buying raw materials from and paying bribes to Daesh and other armed groups.

SOMO’s analysis suggests that Overseas Shipholding Group, Valero Energy Corporation, and Ashdod Refinery Limited, through their involvement in the jet fuel supply chain, could potentially face legal liability for facilitating or exacerbating war crimes committed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

The report concludes by emphasising the legal obligation of states to prevent genocide in Gaza, as determined by the International Court of Justice in the case concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip. An embargo on the sale or transfer of jet fuel and crude oil to Israel, given the prominent use of air strikes, may be considered a necessary measure to fulfil this obligation.

SOMO calls on states to impose an oil and fuel embargo on Israel, prevent vessels carrying oil or fuel destined for Israel from docking in their ports, and impound vessels found to be carrying fuel destined for Israel. The organisation also urges companies in the oil, fuel, and shipping sectors to conduct heightened due diligence and immediately suspend any involvement in the supply of these resources to Israel to prevent contributing to human rights violations and atrocities in Gaza.

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