UN rights council considers call for halt to arms sales to Israel

UN rights council considers call for halt to arms sales to Israel
UN rights council considers call for halt to arms sales to Israel

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A picture taken on April 2, 2024, shows a United Nations peacekeepers observation point near the Quneitra border crossing with Syria in the Israeli annexed-Golan Heights. — AFP pic

GENEVA, April 5 — The UN Human Rights Council was today debating whether to demand a halt in arms sales to Israel, whose war in Gaza has killed more than 33,000 people, mostly civilians.

If the text is adopted, it would mark the first time that the United Nations’ top rights body has taken a position on the bloodiest-ever war to beset the besieged Palestinian territory.

The draft text calls on countries to “cease the sale, transfer and diversion of arms, munitions and other military equipment to Israel”.

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This, it said, is needed among other things “to prevent further violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights”.

It stresses that the International Court of Justice ruled in January “that there is a plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza.

Today’s draft resolution, which was brought forward by Pakistan on behalf of all Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states except Albania, calls for “an immediate ceasefire” and “for immediate emergency humanitarian access and assistance”.

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It comes after the UN Security Council in New York last week also finally passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire — thanks to an abstention from Washington, Israel’s closest ally and largest arms supplier.

However, the ceasefire demand has had no impact on the ground.

The war in Gaza war began after Hamas’s October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Palestinian militants also took more than 250 hostages on October 7, and 130 remain in Gaza, including 34 who the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 33,037 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

Does not name Hamas

The rights council draft resolution does not name Hamas but it does condemn the firing of rockets at Israeli civilian areas and demands “the immediate release of all remaining hostages”.

The strongly worded text repeatedly names Israel, stressing it is “the occupying Power”.

It demands that Israel end its occupation of all Palestinian territories and “immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip and all other forms of collective punishment”.

The text, which was revised late yesterday removing several references to genocide, continues to express “grave concern at statements by Israeli officials amounting to incitement to genocide”.

And it urges countries to “prevent the continued forcible transfer of Palestinians within and from Gaza”.

It warns in particular “against any large-scale military operations in the city of Rafah” in the south of the densely populated Gaza Strip, where well over one million civilians are sheltering, warning of “devastating humanitarian consequences”.

Starvation

The draft resolution also condemns “the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in Gaza”, where the UN has warned that famine is looming.

And it slammed “the unlawful denial of humanitarian access, wilful impediment to relief supplies and deprivation of objects indispensable to the survival of civilians, including food, water, electricity, fuel and telecommunications, by Israel”.

The text also condemns Israel’s “use of explosive weapons with wide area effects by Israel in populated areas in Gaza”.

Today’s draft resolution deplores the fact that Israel has persistently refused to cooperate with numerous investigations ordered by the UN rights council.

And it insists on the “imperative of credible, timely and comprehensive accountability for all violations of international law” in Gaza.

It calls on the Commission of Inquiry on the rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories — the highest-level UN investigation launched prior to October 7 — to probe all “direct and indirect transfer or sale of arms, munitions, parts, components and dual use items to Israel, the occupying Power”.

The team, it said, should identify the weapons used since October 7 and “analyse the legal consequences of these transfers”.

The investigators should present their findings to the council at its 59th session, which will be held in mid-2025, it said. — AFP

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