Humanitarian organizations called on all countries on Wednesday to stop supplying arms to Israel and Palestinian armed groups, end the conflict in Gaza and not be complicit in possible war crimes.
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These arms deliveries “fuel the humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza Strip, condemn the 16 NGOs that signed this call, including Médecins du Monde, Oxfam and Amnesty International.
These organizations call for “an immediate ceasefire” and call on “all countries to stop supplying weapons that can be used to commit violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.”
They are calling on the UN Security Council to take “action” to put an end to these arms deliveries.
The war in Gaza was sparked by Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israeli soil on October 7, which killed more than 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to official Israeli data, according to an AFP count.
About 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza, including about 100 who were released in late November as part of a ceasefire in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. But there are still 132 hostages in the territory, 28 of whom are believed to have died.
After the attack, Israel vowed to “destroy” Hamas, which has been in power in Gaza since 2007, and launched a massive military operation that killed 25,700 Palestinians, the vast majority women, children and teenagers, according to Hamas's health ministry.
“The Israeli bombings and siege are depriving the civilian population of their vital elements and making Gaza uninhabitable,” denounced the 16 NGOs. “The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented severity and scale,” they continue.
“The most dangerous place”
At least 167 aid workers have been killed in Gaza, they say, marking “the highest number in any conflict” in the 21st century.
Gaza is “today the most dangerous place for a child, a journalist and a humanitarian worker,” the NGOs denounce.
“Our work as (humanitarian) organizations has been made virtually impossible,” complains Alexandra Saieh from Save the Children.
More than 95% of weapons sent or given to Israel come from the United States, points out Martin Butcher, weapons and conflict specialist at Oxfam, followed by Germany with around 3%, followed by the United Kingdom and Italy with less than 1% each.
But a large proportion of the weapons used by Israel contain parts from the United Kingdom.
According to Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International, several Israeli operations using American weapons could constitute violations of international law.
One of them, an airstrike on October 10, killed 24 people, most of them women and children, in an area where Israel had called on the population to seek refuge.
“Some of the killings we are seeing on the ground may constitute war crimes that will be the subject of an investigation,” adds Federico Dessi of Handicap International.
According to the signatory organizations, Israel's military operation has destroyed “large parts of homes, schools, hospitals, water infrastructure, shelters and refugee camps.”
No medical facility is fully functional. Those that are only partially functioning are overstretched and lack staff and medical equipment, they warn.
The International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court, said on Wednesday that it would make its decision on Friday on urgent measures demanded by South Africa, which accuses Israel of “genocide” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The NGOs also condemn the armed groups in Gaza that “indiscriminately fire rockets at the population of Israel.”
“Hostage-taking and arbitrary attacks constitute violations of international humanitarian law and must stop immediately,” it said.