Saturday, April 20, 2024

UN experts urge countries to immediately halt weapons exports to Israel amid Gaza war

A group of the UN experts has stressed that any arms exports to Israel that would be used in the Gaza Strip are likely a violation of international law and should stop immediately.

The statement is one of the most sharply defined calls for international actors to cease weapons shipments to Israel amid its ongoing war in Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed more than 29,000 Palestinians.

The experts said weapons exports to Israel could be used in Gaza, where there is a “clear risk” that they would be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law.

“All States must ‘ensure respect’ for international humanitarian law by parties to an armed conflict, as required by 1949 Geneva Conventions and customary international law,” the experts stated.

“States must accordingly refrain from transferring any weapon or ammunition – or parts for them – if it is expected, given the facts or past patterns of behaviour, that they would be used to violate international law.”

The experts added that the transfers of weapons are still “prohibited even if the exporting State does not intend the arms to be used in violation of the law – or does not know with certainty that they would be used in such a way”.

The statement also lauded the decision made by a Dutch appeals court on 12 February, in which it ordered the Netherlands to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel.

The court found that there was a “clear risk” that the parts would be used to commit violations of international humanitarian law, as “there are many indications that Israel has violated the humanitarian law of war in a not insignificant number of cases”.

Several other countries also announced they would be suspending arms to Israel, including Belgium, Italy, and Spain. The European Union has also discouraged arms sales to Israel.

Still, the main weapons supplier of Israel continues to be the US, which shows no signs of halting or even decreasing its weapons shipments to the country.

The amount of arms Washington gives to Israel even led to criticism from Josep Borrell, the foreign policy chief for the EU.

After US President Joe Biden called Israel’s conduct in Gaza “over the top”, Borrell suggested that the American leader do something about it.

“Well, if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people being killed,” Borrell told reporters earlier this month.

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