The organisation stressed that the Biden administration has “failed to meet the moment to prevent further loss of life”.
Amnesty International has called on United States President Joe Biden to halt his support for Israel’s “indiscriminate killing” of Palestinians, amid the ongoing aggression on Gaza that has killed at least 3,480 people.
“In his face-to-face meetings, now is the time for President Biden to use the United States’ influence and urge the Israeli government to immediately stop the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure and end its siege of Gaza,” Paul O’Brien, Amnesty International USA Executive Director, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The rights watchdog’s statement came during Biden’s visit to Tel Aviv, where he met with Netanyahu and reiterated Washington’s support for Israel as well as its so-called “right to self defence”.
Since 7 October, Israel has waged a deadly war on Gaza that has killed at least 3,480 people, including an estimated 1,200 children. To date, the US has failed to condemn its ally while increasing its military backing, a move that analysts believe could cause the war to spill over to the rest of the region.
Washington already sends around $3.8 billion to Tel Aviv annually, backing its ongoing attacks against Palestinians living under 75 years of occupation. Despite actively contributing to the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Biden announced on Wednesday $100m in humanitarian assistance for the Strip and the occupied West Bank .
“The President must also insist that the US will not tolerate the perpetuation of war crimes or crimes against humanity with weapons it has provided to the Israeli government, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure,” O’Brien said.
The Amnesty official added that Biden must act on his administration’s policies that call for the protection of human rights and “reducing civilian harms”.
“President Biden must uphold the US government’s obligation to prevent atrocities and protect the human rights of all people and must seek to urgently de-escalate violence by all parties,” O’Brien said.
The statement then went on to call on Biden to also condemn Hamas’ “deliberate killing of civilians” and demand the release of Israelis held captive following 7 October’s Palestinian resistance operation.
Protecting Israel from accountability
Biden’s visit to Tel Aviv came the morning after the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) committed a massacre at the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in Gaza.
The attack, the biggest since 2008, killed around 500 Palestinians, many of whom were taking shelter at the hospital after being forcibly displaced from their homes by the IOF’s bombardment.
In the immediate aftermath of the hospital bombing, Israeli social media official Hananya Naftali posted that the hospital had been struck due to a Hamas base being in the area.
However, the post was deleted within hours—a fact highlighted by Palestine’s envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday.
“He is a liar. His spokesperson and digital spokesperson tweeted that Israel did the hit thinking that there is around this hospital, a base for Hamas and then he deleted that tweet. We have a copy of that tweet,” Riyad Mansour said, referring to Netanyahu.
Israel later claimed the attack was caused by a rocket fired by Hamas, and later by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The PIJ group rejected the allegations, calling out the “Zionist enemy” for “trying hard to evade its responsibility.”
The Israeli government also spread videos they claimed were of the attack on social media, but an investigation by Al-Haq, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights revealed that the videos were not from the attack. They were later removed from Israel’s official social media posts.
Biden, however, appeared to yet again shield Israel from accountability by blaming the Palestinians for the attack.
“I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion of the hospital in Gaza yesterday, and based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden said in Tel Aviv on Wednesday in a briefing alongside Netanyahu, in remarks understood to refer to Palestinian resistance groups.
Biden added: “But there’s a lot of people out there not sure, so we’ve got a lot, we’ve got to overcome a lot of things.”
Amnesty said that Biden should have instead called on “all parties” to uphold international law.
“Given the unique influence of the US 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,” O’Brien said.
The Amnesty official added: “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.”
Lifting Gaza siege
Amnesty has further stressed that the Biden administration has “failed to meet the moment to prevent further loss of life,” calling on the US to enable the entry of humanitarian assistance to Gaza while lifting the siege on the Palestinian enclave.
The already blockaded Strip is currently strangled by a complete Israeli embargo that has cut it off from much-needed aid, electricity, water, and food. The Rafah crossing, the only way in and out of Gaza, has also been shut since the start of the aggression amid Israel’s relentless bombing.
The IOF carried out another attack on Rafah on Monday, destroying much of its infrastructure on the Palestinian side.
During Biden’s visit to Israel, Netanyahu said that he will not stop humanitarian aid from entering Egypt “in light of the demands” of the US president.
“In light of President Biden’s demand, Israel will not thwart humanitarian supplies from Egypt as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population in the southern Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
The Israeli leader added that he will “not allow any humanitarian aid from its territory to the Gaza Strip” as long as the hostages are not released.
Shortly after Netanyahu’s statement, Biden said that up to 20 trucks would be granted entry to the Rafah crossing from Egypt on Friday. However, the delivery of humanitarian aid does not mean the lifting of the blockade.
“The US must urge the Israeli government to immediately end its siege on Gaza, restore water, food, fuel and electricity, and rescind its evacuation order,” Amnesty stressed.
Tonnes of foreign aid have been stacking up in trucks in Egypt’s Sinai awaiting to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Egypt had called on potential donors to instead deliver aid to Egypt’s Al Arish International Airport, where other aid flights have already landed.
On Monday, Qatar joined the international community in delivering aid to Gaza by dispatching the first of three Qatar Emiri Air Force flights to Al Arish International Airport in the Sinai peninsula, carrying 37 tonnes of aid.
Egyptian authorities would later deliver the aid through the shared Egypt-Gaza Rafah border crossing, which has been closed since last week amid Israel’s ongoing aggression.
Meanwhile, there has been no ceasefire in sight despite international efforts aimed at reaching a humanitarian truce. On Wednesday, the US blocked yet another proposed humanitarian ceasefire at the United Nations Security Council.