US must comply with International Law and their own Leahy Law

US must comply with International Law and their own Leahy Law
US Police consider using Israeli Company High Lander surveillance and aviation technology, used in Occupied Palestinian Territories.

On the 20th May, 2024, ICC Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan issued applications for the arrest warrants of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Yoav Gallant, Minister of Defence, under “reasonable grounds for war crimes and crimes against humanity”, including for “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population”, “extermination and/or murder” and for “wilfully causing great suffering”. Still, the United States continues to provide political and material support, recently confirming a new $1bn sale of arms and ammunition to Israel as it continues it’s invasion of the Gaza Strip. It is also involved in importing Israeli technology, often military technology, which has been tried and tested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since October 7th, particularly in illegal settlements. Israel is within the ten most prominent military exporters in the world, with the US accounting for importing 69% of goods.

 

One such technology is the Orion system by Israeli company High Lander, which enables users to control hundreds of drones simultaneously without direct user input. This technology has been used by the Israeli Ministry of Defence in settlements and is now being considered by US police departments for surveillance and crime response, as highlighted by High Lander founder, Alon Ableson.

 

This practice is part of a broader trend in which Israel uses Palestinian territories as testing grounds for advanced military technologies. These “combat-proven” products, including Elbit Systems’ Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 drones used extensively during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, are marketed globally. These drones have been sold to over 20 countries, including the US and the UK, and are promoted based on their effectiveness in Gaza and the West Bank.

 

The Israeli drone Heron TP, produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), has also seen extensive use in Gaza and Lebanon before being exported to countries like Germany and the US. These technologies, marketed as efficient and reliable due to their use in actual combat situations, essentially commodify the suffering and lives of Palestinians for international profit.

 

The US investment in Israeli military technology raises significant human rights concerns. The US State Department recently found five Israeli military units responsible for gross violations of human rights, yet these units remain eligible for US military aid due to ongoing "remediation" efforts. These findings are underscored by impACT and fellow human rights organisations documenting severe humanitarian impacts due to Israeli military actions, including restrictions on humanitarian aid to Gaza, leading to significant deprivation and suffering.

 

Furthermore, Israel’s actions in Gaza have been widely condemned for violating various human rights laws, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibiting the targeting of civilian population, and demands the protection of civilians during conflict. Since October 7, we have witnessed over 36,000 deaths and counting.

 

As mentioned, The International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused Israel of potential war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as, “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population”, “extermination and/or murder” and for “wilfully causing great suffering”. The arbitrary denial of humanitarian aid and essential goods to Gaza constitutes a breach of international humanitarian law, as it imposes collective punishment on a civilian population, exacerbating their suffering and violating their basic human rights.

 

The role of businesses, particularly those involved in the defence sector, in this ongoing conflict is deeply troubling. Companies like High Lander, Elbit Systems, and IAI profit from the continuous cycle of violence by providing military technologies that are tested in occupied territories. These businesses are complicit in the violence by enabling and profiting from the military actions that perpetuate the conflict. Their technologies are not just tools of war but instruments that enforce and exacerbate the occupation, contributing to the systemic human rights abuses faced by Palestinians.

 

The use of Gaza and the West Bank as testing grounds for military technology treats the land and its inhabitants as mere subjects in a live experiment. This not only dehumanises the Palestinian population but also normalises the use of military force against civilians, undermining international humanitarian laws designed to protect innocent lives. The importation of these technologies by countries like the US, during an ongoing genocide, suggests a willingness to overlook the ethical implications in favour of technological and military advantage. This not only perpetuates the cycle of violence but also erodes the moral standing of the US in advocating for human rights and international law.

 

To conclude, the US's role in funding and importing Israeli military technology not only fuels ongoing violence in Palestine but also violates international human rights standards. To mitigate these impacts, comprehensive policy changes and rigorous enforcement of existing laws are essential.

 

Firstly, the US must rigorously and immediately enforce the Leahy Law, which they themselves have established. The Leahy Law prohibits military assistance to foreign security forces implicated in gross human rights violations. This includes suspending all military aid to Israeli units identified by the US State Department and international bodies for their involvement in atrocities in Gaza.

 

Secondly, the US should support and cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity in occupied Palestine. This entails redirecting political and financial support away from Israeli military initiatives and towards international legal bodies, ensuring that justice and accountability are prioritised over strategic alliances.

 

Lastly, the US must implement enhanced due diligence checks on imported technologies. This involves a thorough review process to ensure that companies supplying these technologies do not engage in practices that violate international human rights laws. Such measures will prevent the importation of military technologies tested on occupied populations and used to perpetuate conflict and oppression.

 

Enforcing these policies would represent a significant step in aligning US foreign policy with its claimed commitment to human rights and international law. It would also send a powerful message that the US does not condone the exploitation and suffering of civilian populations for technological and military advancements.

 

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