UN human rights body calls for halt to weapons shipments to Israel as concerns about Gaza war mount

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Geneva: The UN’s top human rights body called on countries to stop selling or shipping weapons to Israel in a resolution passed on Friday that aims to help prevent rights violations against Palestinians amid Israel’s blistering military campaign in Gaza.

The 47-member-country Human Rights Council voted 28-6 in favour of the resolution, with 13 abstentions.

The sweeping measure, which takes aim at an array of Israeli actions such as impeding access to water and limiting shipments of humanitarian aid into Palestinian areas, also calls on UN-backed independent investigators to report on shipments of weapons, munitions and “dual use” items — for both civilian and military purposes — that could be used by Israel against Palestinians. It is not binding.

Western countries were divided, with the US, Germany and others opposing the resolution, several abstaining and some European countries voting in favour.

Israel — at times joined by the United States — has regularly and roundly criticised the council for its alleged anti-Israel bias.

The council has approved far more resolutions against Israel for its actions toward Palestinians over the years than against any other country.

The council is wrapping up its first session of the year, which began on February 26, with action on more than 40 resolutions on subjects as diverse as the rights of the child; the environment and human rights; genocide prevention; and rights situations in countries like Sudan, Belarus and North Korea.

The resolution comes amid a growing focus on weapons shipments to Israel — notably by its strongest backer, the United States — as Israel continues its military campaign in Gaza that has led to the killings of nearly 33,000 Palestinians that began in response to the attacks in Israel by armed militants on October 7.

In a sign of Washington’s growing impatience with Israel’s handling of the military campaign, US President Joe Biden issued a stark warning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that future US support for Israel’s Gaza war depends on the swift implementation of new steps to protect civilians and aid workers.

That was the first time that Biden has threatened to rethink his backing if Israel doesn’t change its tactics and allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

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