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Blinken: US doesn't have 'double standards' on holding Israel accountable

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday rejected the accusation the U.S. is attempting to avoid holding Israel accountable for its military campaign amid criticism over the State Department’s recent report on Israeli war conduct.

In a highly anticipated report released last week, the State Department concluded it was “reasonable to assess” Israel violated international humanitarian law while stopping short of determining wrongdoing as it did not find specific instances of violations.

When asked on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” if the U.S. is trying to avoid holding Israel accountable for its actions, Blinken said, “No. We don’t have double standards.”

“We treat Israel, one of our closest allies and partners, just as we would treat any other country, including in assessing something like international humanitarian law and its compliance with that law,” Blinken said, adding later, “The report also makes clear that this is an incredibly complex military environment. You have an enemy that intentionally embeds itself with civilians, hiding under and within schools, mosques, apartment buildings, firing at the Israeli forces from those places.”

The report pointed to the climbing death toll in Gaza, which is now up to more than 35,000, per local health officials, and said there were “sufficient reported incidents to raise serious concerns” about how Israel has conducted its wartime campaign against Hamas.

“What the report concludes is that, based on the totality of the harm that’s been done to children, to women, to men who are caught in this crossfire of Hamas’ making, it’s reasonable to conclude that there are instances where Israel has acted in ways that are not consistent with international humanitarian law,” Blinken said. “At the same time, Kristen, we continue to look at, investigate each of these incidents, but critically, so does Israel.”

The report received notable criticism from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who called the report “woefully inadequate.”

“If this conduct complies with international standards, God help us all,” Van Hollen said last Friday. “Because that would set a very low bar for what is allowed, it would set a very low bar for the rules of war, it would set a very low bar what’s required to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

Responding to Blinken’s Sunday comments made on various talk shows, Van Hollen said, “So while I appreciate the fact that as Secretary Blinken said, the administration determined that it was reasonable to conclude that violations of international law had had happened, I think there’s enough on the books to be able to point to specific cases and make specific determinations and on that score, the administration did not ask the hard questions.”

Source: The Hill

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