Menu Close

Stop arms sales to Israel, UN says

Add to my bookmarks
ClosePlease login

No account yet? Register

Share This Article:

On Israel’s southern border with the Gaza Strip, parachutes of humanitarian aid are dropping over the besieged Palestinian territory, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Seven people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach aid air-dropped into Gaza, the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry said on March 26. Picture: Jack Guez / AFP / Taken March 26, 2024

By AFP and Reuters Staff

The UN Human Rights Council demanded a halt in all arms sales to Israel yesterday, highlighting warnings of “genocide” in its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 33 000 people.

The resolution – which passed with 28 of the council’s 47 member states voting in favour, six opposed and 13 abstaining – marked the first time the UN top rights body has taken a position on the bloodiest-ever war to beset the besieged Palestinian territory.

Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, slammed the resolution as “a stain for the Human Rights Council and for the UN as a whole”.

The strongly worded text called on countries to “cease the sale, transfer and diversion of arms, munitions and other military equipment to Israel … to prevent further violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights”.

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

Yesterday’s resolution, which was brought by Pakistan on behalf of all Organisation of Islamic Co-operation member states except Albania, also called for “an immediate ceasefire” and “for immediate emergency humanitarian access and assistance”.

“We need you all to wake up and stop this genocide, a genocide televised around the world,” Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Mohammad Khraishi told the council before the vote.

The US heeded Israel’s call to vote no, as did Germany, Argentina, Bulgaria, Malawi and Paraguay.

Friday’s vote came 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.

The UN Human Rights Council also called for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, although Israel dismissed it as a “distorted text”, Reuters reported.

The resolution stressed “the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity”.

It also expressed “grave concern at reports of serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

Shahar, accused the council of having “long abandoned the Israeli people and long defended Hamas”.

“According to the resolution before you today, Israel has no right to protect its people, while Hamas has every right to murder and torture innocent Israelis,” she said ahead of the vote. “A vote ‘Yes’ is a vote for Hamas.”

Khraishi welcomed the vote and resolution but complained that some European states had not backed it. “There have been calls for accountability across the world, but that position changes when we’re talking about Israel,” Khraishi told the council.

The US had pledged to vote against the resolution because it did not contain a specific condemnation of Hamas for the October 7 attacks, or “any reference to the terrorist nature of those actions”.

It did, however, say that its ally Israel had not done enough to mitigate harm to civilians.

The security council, which meets several times a year, is the only intergovernmental body designed to protect human rights worldwide. It can increase scrutiny of countries’ human rights records and authorise investigations.

Meanwhile, aid charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) has demanded an independent commission to investigate the killings of its staff in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, saying the Israeli military could not credibly investigate its own “failure”.

The aid workers were killed on Monday when their convoy was hit shortly after they oversaw the unloading of 100 tons of food aid brought to Gaza by sea.

“Without systemic change, there will be more military failures, more apologies and more grieving families,” according to a statement published by WCK yesterday.

The incident received widespread condemnation.

Israel said its inquiry into the incident had found serious errors and breaches of procedure by its military. Two senior officers have been dismissed and senior commanders formally reprimanded, it said.

The WCK said it is also clear from the preliminary investigation that the Israeli military has deployed deadly force without regard to its own protocols, chain of command and rules of engagement. – AFP and Reuters