Palestinians participating on Gaza’s non-violent Great March of Return have called for an arms embargo against Israel. This has been backed by the Amnesty International statement; Israel: Arms embargo needed as military unlawfully kills and maims Gaza protesters.
The United Nations has imposed arms embargoes within the sanctions regimes of:
- Sudan for ‘Those who impede the peace process, constitute a threat to stability in Darfur and the region, commit violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or other atrocities”
- Congo for “Engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the DRC” such as “planning, directing, or committing acts in the DRC that constitute human rights violations or abuses or violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable, including those acts involving the targeting of civilians, including killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, abduction, forced displacement, and attacks on schools and hospitals’
- Libya for “Individuals and entities involved in or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Libya, including by being involved in or complicit in planning, commanding, ordering or conducting attacks, in violation of international law, including aerial bombardments, on civilian populations and facilities’ UN Sanctions
All the above criteria for sanctions (and more) apply to the Jewish state’s military occupation and control of Palestinian lives over the past 70 years and apply to its blatant belligerence during the past month against Gaza’s unarmed protesters that has culminated, to date, in 46 martyrs and over 6000 injuries that began with the Good Friday massacre.
The killings and maiming are indisputable evidence of the violation of International Law and International Humanitarian Law ( IHL) which prohibits under Rule 70 ,
“The use of means and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering”.
100 Jewish snipers were ordered to shoot unarmed civilians with semi-jacket bullets which are variously called dumdum, hollow-point, expanding bullet, explosive, soft-point, soft-nosed, that inflict horrific Grade 3 wounds as on contact, the bullet splays out talons massive internal tissue damage,
“Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone. These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations and most of them will have disabilities for life.” Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, Medecins Sans Frontieres’s head of mission in Palestine.
These high velocity bullets ‘are prohibited under a number of treaties’ for causing ‘superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering’.
That the Jewish state uses Gaza to field test new weapons has been well documented and today in Gaza doctors have also remarked on a new tear gas, not gray but green in colour, that causes severe spasms and ‘cramps, vomiting and stress, severe cough and a faster heartbeat…Because the gas is unknown and the health complaints are also unknown, the use of this gas is very dangerous and one does not know what more damage the gas can cause to the body.’ Khamakar Press
Of course testing weapons on civilians is a war crime and yet Israeli armament companies boast that their weaponry is field-tested which boosts sales to morally shoddy western governments. This impunity and complicity can come to a halt with campaigns focusing on the S in BDS- Boycott Divestment and SANCTIONS.
Speaking of sanctions, take the UK for example; it was hot to screech for sanctions against Russia after the magically non-lethal unproven ‘nerve agent’ attack in Salisbury but has not condemned the ongoing real massacre of unarmed protesters in Gaza and has, furthermore sold to Israel, according to Middle East Eye, $445 million of arms, including spare parts for sniper rifles’ since Israel’s 2014-war-crimes-war on Gazan families despite the UK having ratified the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on 2nd April 2014.
Article 6 of the ATT provides a solid legal structure and obligations for arms embargoes,
Article 6: 3. A State Party shall not authorize any transfer of conventional arms covered under Article 2 (1) or of items covered under Article 3 or Article 4, if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which it is a Party.
94 countries have ratified the ATT. We can demand that our governments honour their obligations and end arms trade with Israel and lobby our governments to support a UN arms embargo. It is the least we can do.
ATT campaigns will erase any sense of bystander helplessness in the face of the Jewish state’s slaughter and maiming of brave young Gazans who are simply demanding their Right of Return under international law.
Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters and editor of a volume of Palestinian poetry, I remember my name. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.