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US Senate rejects forcing human rights report on Israel

The US Senate rejected a resolution that would have forced the US State Department to produce a report within 30 days examining whether Israel committed human rights violations in its campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

As voting continued, 54 senators voted to set the resolution aside, thus meaning it cannot move ahead in the 100-memberSenate.

The vote was forced by Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats. While the measure was handily defeated, it reflected growing concern among some of President Joe Biden’s fellow democrats, especially on the left, over the supply of US weapons to Israel despite the Gaza conflict’s steep toll on Palestinian civilians.

“We must ensure that US aid is being used in accordance with human rights and our own laws”

Mr Sanders said in a speech before the vote urging support for the resolution, lamenting what he described as the Senate’s failure to consider any measure looking at the war’s effect on civilians.

The US senate returned to advance a short-term spending bill which seeks to avoid a government shutdown

The US government had said it opposed the resolution, which could have paved the way toward the imposition of conditions on security assistance to Israel.

The US gives Israel $3.8 billion (€3.49 billion) in such assistance each year, ranging from fighter jets to powerful bombs that could destroy Hamas tunnels. Mr Biden has asked Congress to approve an additional $14 billion (€12.87 billion).

Mr Sanders’ resolution was filed under the Foreign Assistance Act, which allows Congress to direct the state to provide a human rights report and other information on any country receiving US security assistance.

Senator Bernie Sanders had earlier called on the US Congress to block funding to Israel

If the resolution had passed, it would have required the US State Department to provide a report to Congress within 30 days. After receiving the report, Congress could consider another resolution proposing changes to security assistance to Israel.

Israel launched the war to eradicate Hamas, an Iran-backed group sworn to Israel’s destruction, after militants stormed across the border fence on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and capturing 240 hostages, Israeli tallies showed.

Gaza health authorities, whose data the United Nations has deemed broadly reliable, said the war, now in its fourth month, had killed 24,285 people in the Palestinian enclave.

The war has driven most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people from their homes, some of them several times, and caused a humanitarian crisis, with food, fuel and medical supplies running low.

Mr Biden’s administration says it has pushed Israel to reduce civilian casualties, but Israel says it will not rest until Hamas is wiped out, and the militants are showing no sign of losing the means to resist.

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