Rights groups demand EU, US suspend Israel trade and arms sales over Gaza carnage

Rights groups demand EU, US suspend Israel trade and arms sales over Gaza carnage
Human rights groups are calling for the EU and US to suspend arms deals and trade with Israel amid its brutal war on Gaza.
2 min read
20 March, 2024
Human Rights Watch and Oxfam say suspending arms to Israel is “necessary” as long as they are being used to violate international law [GETTY]

Human rights groups have called for the EU and the US to suspend trade and arms deals with Israel amid the continued carnage in Gaza.

In a report submitted to President Joe Biden's administration, rights groups and NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, said suspending arms deals with Israel is "necessary so long as there is an overriding risk that they are being used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and US law and policy".

They not only noted Israel's "indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks" against Palestinian civilians but also flagged how it restricts, delays, and impedes US humanitarian aid "based on our firsthand experience or investigations, with supporting information from credible news organizations", thereby violating international law.

The report cites examples of numerous human rights violations by Israel, including strikes on or near major hospitals in Gaza, such as Al-Shifa , strikes in southern Lebanon, the use of white phosphorus in military operations, damage to water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure, and the assertion that Israeli forces use explosive weapons with "wide-affected populated area of Gaza".

At the same time, over 200 civil society organisations across Europe, including Oxfam, have called on the EU to suspend a free trade agreement with Israel "without delay" in light of abuses in Gaza.

The Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt addressed many EU officials, including President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the EU Council Charles Michel, in an open letter published on Tuesday.

The letter notes civilian casualties and abuses by the Israeli government as evidence of the violation of so-called "essential elements" clauses, which, if breached, enable the EU to fully or partially suspend and even terminate the agreements.

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The letter states that the current war on Gaza is the "consequence of a political and moral failure of the international community" and suspending the agreement due to violation of its human rights clauses would send a "strong message that the EU's commitment to human rights is more than just rhetoric".

Israel's war on Gaza has killed over 31,800 Palestinians and injured over 73,000.

Washington has faced backlash for its arms deals with and military aid to Israel, which is the largest recipient of US foreign aid since World War II.