In light of the devastating conflict in the Middle East, Amnesty International is calling on the UN to immediately impose a total arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups in the hopes it will prevent further violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by all sides.
If the embargo does not go ahead, Amnesty International is pleading with all states who supply those parties with weapons to suspend all assistance and weaponry transfers, only resuming operations once violations have been investigated and those responsible brought to justice.
Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International said “As the leading arms exporter to Israel, the USA must lead the way and demonstrate its proclaimed respect for human rights and international humanitarian law by urgently suspending arms transfers to Israel and pushing for a UN arms embargo on all parties to the conflict. By failing to do so it is displaying a callous disregard for lives being lost in the conflict on all sides”.
Amnesty International is also specifically appealing to the US after reports that the Pentagon approved the immediate transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to the Israeli army from a US army stockpile already situated in Israel, in addition to a shipment of 4.3 tons of US-manufactured rocket motors, which arrived in Haifa in mid July.
USA is by far the largest exporter of military equipment to Israel, with $62 million worth of weaponry having already been exported from the USA to Israel between January and May this year.
“The US government is adding fuel to the fire by continuing its supply of the type of arms being used by Israel’s armed forces to violate human rights. The US government must accept that by repeatedly shipping and paying for such arms on this scale they are exacerbating and further enabling grave abuses to be committed against civilians during the conflict in Gaza” said Brian Wood.
The Israelis are not the only ones accused of committing war crimes and violating international law. Amnesty International has repeatedly called for an end to attacks committed by Palestinian armed groups who continue to fire rockets into Israel, endangering civilians.
Just last week, the speaker of the Iranian parliament publicly announced that Iran had provided arms manufacturing know-how to Hamas in Gaza, and late last year Iran had given both financial and military support to Hamas including missile technology, with Hamas admitting to firing Iranian missiles towards Tel-Aviv.
However, due to the sheer influence and economic power of the US, Amnesty International is largely focused on encouraging the US to set an example and cease all military assistance to Israel.
On the same day the US government condemned the shelling of a UN school in Gaza, which killed at least 20 people including children and humanitarian workers, news also surfaced that the USA had allowed the resupply of munitions to Israel.
“It is deeply cynical for the White House to condemn the deaths and injuries of Palestinians, including children, and humanitarian workers, when it knows full well that the Israeli military responsible for such attacks are armed to the teeth with weapons and equipment bankrolled by US taxpayers,” said Brian Wood.
Currently the death tolls stands at almost 1,500 including more than 1,400 Palestinians (mostly civilians), 56 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel.