UN rights council demands halt to arms sales to Israel, warning of genocide in Gaza

AFP , Friday 5 Apr 2024

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

A view of the screen showing the result of a vote on a resolution regarding the Israeli military campaign in Gaza, during the 55th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. AP


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 United Nations' top rights body has taken a position on the bloodiest-ever war to beset the besieged Palestinian territory.

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.

Friday's resolution, which was brought forward by Pakistan on behalf of all Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states except Albania, also called for "an immediate ceasefire" and "for immediate emergency humanitarian access and assistance".

'Stop this genocide'

"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.

Key ally, Washington, heeded Israel's call to vote no, as did Germany, Argentina, Bulgaria, Malawi and Paraguay.

US Ambassador Michele Taylor agreed that "far too many civilians have been killed in this conflict and that every civilian death is a tragedy", acknowledging that "Israel has not done enough to mitigate civilian harm".

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.

Since the onset of the war, Israel's relentless army assault has killed at least 33,091 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry. 

The resolution repeatedly named Israel, demanding that the country 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 on Thursday removing several references to genocide, continued to express "grave concern at statements by Israeli officials amounting to incitement to genocide".

And it urged countries to "prevent the continued forcible transfer of Palestinians within and from Gaza".

It warned 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 1.4 million civilians are sheltering, warning of "devastating humanitarian consequences".

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

The text insisted on the "imperative of credible, timely and comprehensive accountability for all violations of international law" in Gaza.

It called on UN war crimes investigators, tasked with probing the rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories even before October 7, to look into all "direct and indirect transfer or sale of arms, munitions, parts, components and dual-use items to Israel" ... and "analyse the legal consequences of these transfers".

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