Gaza conflict: UN must impose arms embargo
As the conflict escalates between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, Amnesty International is calling for an international arms embargo and for the immediate deployment of international monitors.
Since 14 November, dozens of civilians in Gaza and three Israeli civilians have been killed. Both sides have violated international humanitarian law, according to information gathered by the UN, local human rights organisations and Amnesty International.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “The UN Security Council should meet urgently to impose an international arms embargo on Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.
“International monitors also need to be on the ground as soon as possible in both Gaza and Israel to carry out independent investigation of human rights abuses by both sides.”
Pending an arms embargo, all states should immediately suspend transfers of weapons, munitions and related equipment to Israel, the Hamas de facto administration, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.
The Israeli military reports that it has attacked more than 1,350 targets in the Gaza Strip since 14 November. Israeli military forces have fired artillery into densely populated residential areas, attacked government and media buildings, and bombed the family homes of members of Palestinian armed groups, killing and wounding Palestinian civilians.
By Monday afternoon, Amnesty International had collected the names of 66 civilians killed in Gaza, including 17 children and 9 women. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported at noon on Monday that 622 civilians in Gaza had been injured, including 175 children and 107 women, many of them severely.
Colm O’Gorman continued: “The number of civilian deaths in Gaza raises stark questions about the extent to which Israeli forces are fulfilling their obligations to protect civilian lives.
“We have serious concerns that some civilians in Gaza have been killed or injured as a result of indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks by Israeli forces.”
Palestinian armed groups have fired more than 1,100 rockets into Israel since 14 November. Most of the rockets cannot be targeted and some have been fired from civilian areas.
These unlawful attacks have killed three Israeli civilians and injured at least 51, two of them severely, according to Magen David Adom, the Israeli branch of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Some of the rockets have landed within the Gaza Strip itself, resulting in civilian casualties.
Colm O’Gorman said: “Palestinian armed groups are firing rockets which cannot be directed at military targets. Their very use endangers civilians and violates international humanitarian law.
“All members of the international community should urge both sides to protect civilians. The silence of some highly influential states has been deafening.”
Amnesty International is also extremely concerned by reports that Hamas’ military wing carried a summary killing of a suspected collaborator in Gaza on 16 November.
Hospitals in Gaza are struggling to cope with the emergency situation, exacerbated by pre-existing shortages due to the Israeli blockade imposed since June 2007. Before the current round of hostilities, they already lacked 40 per cent of the essential medicines list, according to the World Health Organisation.
Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned the blockade of the Gaza Strip as collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.6 million residents and called for it to be completely lifted.
There has been no accountability for war crimes committed by all sides during the 2008-2009 Gaza/Israel conflict, which were documented by Amnesty International and the UN Fact-Finding Mission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone.
Since the end of the 2008-2009 conflict, Amnesty International has condemned the continued firing of indiscriminate rockets from Gaza as well as Israeli military strikes on Gaza which have killed and injured civilians.
The lack of impartial and effective investigations into past crimes raises concerns that patterns of violations will be repeated and victims of crimes in the present conflict may be left without justice.
Impact caption: Vigil in solidarity with the victims of the 2008-2009 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.