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War on Gaza: UN Human Rights Council calls for suspension of arms sales to Israel

Resolution passes after 28 of 47 members vote in favour, marking the first time the UN body has taken a position on Gaza war
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on 3 April 2024 (AFP/Said Khatib)
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on 3 April 2024 (AFP/Said Khatib)

The UN Human Rights Council has called for a suspension of arms sales to Israel, marking the first time the body has taken a position since war broke out on 7 October.

The resolution passed on Friday, with 28 of the council's 47 member states voting in favour, six opposing and 13 abstaining.

The 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 also urged UN war crimes investigators to look into all "direct and indirect transfer or sale of arms, munitions, parts, components and dual use items to Israel" and to analyse the "legal consequences of these transfers".

It also cited the International Court of Justice ruling in January "that there is a plausible risk of genocide" in Gaza, and called for accountability for all possible war crimes committed in the enclave.

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The resolution was brought forward by Pakistan on behalf of all Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states excluding Albania. 

It called for "an immediate ceasefire" and "for immediate emergency humanitarian access and assistance".

'Televised genocide'

Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, 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. "A vote 'Yes' is a vote for Hamas."

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Meanwhile, Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Mohammad Khraishi said ahead of the vote: "We need you all to wake up and stop this genocide, a genocide televised around the world." 

The US, Germany, Argentina, Bulgaria, Malawi and Paraguay voted against the resolution.

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

She said that Washington could not support the resolution because it contained "probelamtic elements", including failing to condemn Hamas's surprise attack on Israel on 7 October. 

The resolution did not name Hamas, however the text condemned the firing of rockets at Israeli civilian areas and called for "the immediate release of all remaining hostages".

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 33,091 people, most of whom are women and children.

The resolution urged states to "prevent the continued forcible transfer of Palestinians within and from Gaza", and warned against an Israeli ground operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over one million Palestinians are sheltering. 

It also condemned "the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in Gaza".

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

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