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UN experts urge countries to immediately halt arms exports to Israel

A Palestinian boy walks amidst the rubble at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on February 23, 2024. (Photo by Reuters)

A group of UN experts have warned that any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in ground and aerial assault against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip is likely to violate international humanitarian law, and must cease immediately.

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

“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 behavior, that they would be used to violate international law,” the experts said in a statement on Friday.

They 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 February 12, 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.”

The experts went on to welcome the suspension of arms transfers to Israel by Belgium, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Japanese company Itochu Corporation.

They further urged other states to immediately halt arms transfers to Israel, including export licenses and military aid.

Even though the European Union has discouraged arms sales to Israel, the United States is by far the largest arms exporter, and shipments have increased since October 7.

The amount of arms Washington gives to the Tel Aviv regime has led to criticism from Josep Borrell, the foreign policy chief for the EU.

Earlier this month, the EU top diplomat reacted to US President Joe Biden’s recent comment that Israel’s military action was “over the top,” noting, “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.”

More than 29,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have lost their lives so far during Israel’s genocidal war, which began following Operation al-Aqsa Storm by Gaza-based resistance movements.

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