The U.S. is not seeing any acts that constitute genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, a State Department spokesperson said on Wednesday, criticising South Africa’s decision to file a genocide case against Israel for its crimes since October 7.
The United States does not see “any acts that constitute genocide” in Gaza, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told a press briefing in Washington on Wednesday.
“Genocide is of course a heinous atrocity, one of the most heinous atrocities that any individual can commit. Those are allegations that should not be made lightly, and as it pertains to the United States, we are not seeing any acts that constitute genocide,” Miller said, in response to a question on Washington’s stance on Israel’s case at the Hague.
South Africa took up Israel’s crimes in Gaza to the International Court of Justice on December 29, requesting that it declare “on an urgent basis that Israel is in breach of its obligations in terms of the Genocide Convention.”
It also called on the Court to press Israel to “immediately cease all acts and measures in breach of those obligations and take a number of related actions.”
Public proceedings are scheduled to take place on January 11 and 12.
The United Nations’ definition of genocide is “a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.”
Since October 7, Israel has killed at least 22, 438 Palestinians and injured 57,614 others, according to the latest figures by Gaza’s authorities.
Israel has also forcibly displaced 1.9 million out of Gaza’s 2.2 million population, as Israeli ministers voice an intention to expel Palestinians from the area.
Asked whether there are any concerns within the State Department over being involved in the prosecution, Miller maintained that the U.S. has been “committed to addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza and have made a priority of preventing” the displacement of Palestinians.
“We have not at this point seen acts that constitute genocide, no,” Miller responded to a follow-up question from the press.
The U.S. has long shielded its ally, Israel, from accountability while refusing to condemn any of its crimes against Palestinians.
Washington has been a vocal supporter of Israel’s right to self-defence since the beginning of the brutal war on Gaza, where 70% of deaths are Palestinian women and children.
On December 8, Washington used its veto power to block a UN Security Council resolution over a ceasefire in Gaza while militarily backing Israel.
Washington had bypassed Congress for the second time on December 29 to approve an estimated $147.5 million in weapons for Israel. This came after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Republican bill to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel on November 2.
The amount was in addition to the annual $3.8 billion military aid that includes fighter jets and destructive bombs. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign military aid.
The U.S. also provided Israel with 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells “shortly after” the surprise Hamas attack on October 7, according to a Wall Street Journal report on December 1.
Amnesty International previously confirmed in a report on December 5 that U.S.-made arms were being used by Israel after reviewing fragments of the munition found under the rubble of two civilian houses in Gaza.
The report found that Israeli occupation forces used American-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions weighing between 1,000-to-2,000 pounds, during their attacks on civilians’ houses in the south of Wadi Gaza in October.