Stop selling arms to Israel: Aid groups demand weapons embargo to stop Gaza war

Stop selling arms to Israel: Aid groups demand weapons embargo to stop Gaza war
Sixteen leading international organisations said that the heavy nature and indiscriminate use of weaponry has made operating in Gaza near impossible.
3 min read
25 January, 2024
The heavy nature and indiscriminate use of weaponry used in Gaza has made operating in the territory near impossible, aid groups have said [Getty]

A group of leading humanitarian organisations have made an urgent call for the halt of arms transfers to Israel and armed Palestinian groups, in light of the desperate situation in Gaza.

Sixteen organisations have signed a joint statement to United Nations member states demanding they stop weapons sales to Israel to avoid further catastrophe and loss of life in Gaza.

The group - which includes Amnesty International, War Child, Save the Children and Oxfam - have asked nations to stop sending weapons, related equipment, parts, and ammunition to actors in the Gaza war.

During an online media briefing on Wednesday, the signatories said that the indiscriminate use of weaponry, which has included more than 40,000 tonnes of bombs dropped by Israel, has made operating in Gaza near impossible.

They named extreme difficulties like frequent communications blackouts, fuel shortages, damaged medical facilities, road blockages and destruction, as well as live fighting and direct assaults on aid warehouses.

"Israel’s bombardment and siege are depriving the civilian population of the basics to survive and rendering Gaza uninhabitable," their joint statement read.

"Today, the civilian population in Gaza faces a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented severity and scale."

Over 95 percent of Israel's weapons supply comes from the United States, whether in kind or sold, with Washington a well-established partner for Israel’s military assets and training its forces.

The UK, Germany, and Italy also produce parts which are sold to Israel, and the UK hosts Israeli weapon manufacturers including Elbit Systems which makes armed and surveillance drones.

As a result, both the UK and US administrations have been accused of playing a role in facilitating Gaza's destruction and contributing to Palestinian suffering.

Huge demonstrations in New York and London have called for a ceasefire and an end to arms sales to Israel in light of the soaring civilian death toll.

During the briefing, Alexandra Saieh, head of humanitarian advocacy and policy at Save the Children International, said the work of humanitarian organisations in Gaza had been rendered "practically impossible".

Despite repeated calls on the international community to use their powers to push for a ceasefire, the organisations are now asking for relevant countries to "stop directly fuelling the death and destruction in Gaza".

Saieh said: "The bombardment and shelling in addition to the siege is choking the humanitarian response, as levels of starvations rise and children are forced to have limbs amputated without anaesthetics."

"These conditions will have lifelong consequences for children."

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Over 25,000 Palestinians, mainly women and children, have been killed since the start of the war, making it the deadliest conflict of this century, the organisations said.

There is not a single fully-functioning medical facility in the dense territory, home to 2.3 million people. More than 300 medical staff have been killed, as well as 167 aid workers.

This week, the Israeli military is encircling Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis with tanks firing directly upper floors and emergency buildings of the complex, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The humanitarians deplored the Israeli military’s so-called 'safe zones', areas where they have instructed Palestinians to flee to, but on numerous documented occasions have then struck these areas, killing civilians.

Advocacy adviser at War Child Alex Abu Ata warned about rising famine conditions for Palestinians following Israel’s destruction to arable land and crops.

Half a million Gazans are at a catastrophic level of hunger, according to a recent study by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification.

"People are so desperate for food they eat nonedible items like rotten food and animal food," Abu Ata said, adding that children and pregnant women will suffer from serious health problems due to malnutrition.

The organisations emphasised that nowhere was safe in Gaza as Israeli strikes have continued to hit areas where civilians have fled to safety.

In addition, they called on the nations supplying weapons to Israel to adhere to the Geneva Convention which makes arming entities known for committing war crimes unlawful.