Biden’s refusal to demand accountability for Israeli army killings is an open farce

Philip Weiss

Mondoweiss  /  June 20, 2023

The State Department shrugged after the Israeli government said there would be no consequences for the barbaric killings of 80-year-old Omar Asaad and three-year-old Mohammed al-Tamimi.

The Biden administration’s refusal to demand any accountability from Israel for army killings is now an open farce among media who cover these atrocities.

Last week the Israeli army stated that there would be no consequences for two grievous killings of Palestinians in the West Bank, though both killings were supposed mistakes.

“Poor decision-making on the part of the soldiers,” the Israeli army said of the killing of 80-year-old Omar Asaad, an American left beaten and handcuffed out in the cold at a checkpoint in January 2022.

And in the case of three-year-old Mohammed al-Tamimi, who was shot on June 2, the army said that an Israeli soldier violated orders in firing warning shots into the air, causing another soldier to fire on Mohammed’s father’s car, that soldier believing the two people in the car were “terrorists.”

There will be no prosecutions in either case, the army said.

Mohammed’s father Haitham al-Tamimi said that the Israeli investigation was a “coverup” and “this report feels to us like a crime on top of the original crime.”

“The two acts are in competition with one another in their degree of barbarity,” Gideon Levy wrote yesterday. “One after the other, the Israeli army legitimized two despicable acts by its soldiers… The IDF totally cleared those who had thrown a bound, elderly Palestinian man to his death as well as those who shot a Palestinian toddler in the head, killing him….In the view of IDF commanders, both are proper, normal and acceptable.”

Yumna Patel points out that the outcome is no surprise. “Less than 1% of Israeli army probes result in the prosecution of soldiers. And if you’re waiting for America to step in and take action, keep holding your breath.”

That, of course, is the scandal for Americans. Israel commits these atrocities with more than $4 billion a year in unconditional U.S. aid. And the Biden administration bends over backward to afford Israel cover for these and other killings. Even as some in Congress question the use of our money for human rights violations.

Both barbaric killings came up in State Department briefings last week, and reporters all but mocked spokesperson Matthew Miller’s rationalizations for the Israeli whitewashes.

On June 14, Said Arikat of Al-Quds brought up impunity in the killings, Asaad’s first.

Matthew Miller said State was deeply concerned and seeking accountability and information.

As we’ve previously stated about this case… we expected a thorough criminal investigation and full accountability… Since Mr. Assad’s tragic death, we have continued to discuss this troubling incident with the Israeli Government. We’re aware of the conclusion of the investigation and we are at this time seeking more information from the Israeli Government about it.

“But they just closed the file,” Arikat said.

Miller said he was aware of that, but the U.S. government was going to “talk to them [the Israeli government] directly about it.”

Matt Lee of the Associated Press then battened on to the point that there is no accountability. “Do you believe that there has been full accountability? Did you expect it?… You said you expected full accountability. Have you seen it so far?”

Miller said the United States wants to engage with the Israelis “further about the outcome of this investigation before making any further pronouncements.”

Arikat pointed out that “it’s been 18 months.”

Arikat then asked about Mohammed al-Tamimi’s killing.

Last week, the Israeli army killed a two-year-old boy [Mohammed’s age was initially reported as 2], and at the time they said they were returning fire. Today, the Israeli army said that the other person that was perceived to be a terrorist is also an Israeli soldier. Should someone pay the price for this? I mean, isn’t this just so outrageous that they kill a two-year-old boy?

The State Department expressed condolences and “we’re looking into” it. Miller:

Let me say that we express our sincere condolences to the family of the child who was tragically killed. We understand that the Israeli Defense Forces have concluded a probe into the incident and we’re looking into the outcomes of that probe…we always urge investigations into any operations that result in civilian casualties.

Again on June 15, Arikat brought up the Israeli whitewash of Mohammed’s killing:

Today the commander of the soldier that shot the two-year-old boy said that he will not – he will spare – those were his words – he will spare the soldiers involved any trial or – and he will only reprimand them. Is that – is that acceptable to you that somebody shot a two-year-old boy, and they get reprimanded? I mean, what – what deterrent is there for soldiers not to do that again?

Miller responded again with boilerplate condolences and we-shall-see:

I will say, as I said yesterday, we continue to offer our condolences to the family. We always mourn the loss of civilian life, and we continue to look into the investigation into this matter.

So the total lack of accountability for Israeli killings on the part of the Biden administration is now an open farce among the press corps. Throw in the wanton killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May 2022– another “mistake” by an Israeli with a high-powered rifle that the Israelis won’t punish any soldier for, because its policy is in fact to endanger Palestinian life without scruple, in the name of security for Jews.

The U.S. has made occasional noises about the failure to demand any accountability, but it never puts its foot down.

And there’s a clear reason why. Biden is running for reelection. He wants to do nothing to alienate conservative pro-Israel donors. They are simply too important to campaigns for any Democrat to ignore. The elephant in the room, as even the New York Times once said.

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-2006