Amnesty International concerned over arms supplied to Israel, Saudi Arabia

“The Arms Trade Treaty states clearly that arms exports are prohibited if there is a real risk of them contributing to human rights violations."

August 20, 2018 16:43
3 minute read.
A child walks around a fake tank parked outside the US embassy

A child walks around a fake tank parked outside the US embassy during a protest held by Amnesty International in Mexico City.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Many governments are continuing to fuel conflicts around the world by breaking the rules of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and supplying weapons to known human rights violators such as Israel, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

“Earlier this year the Israeli military, which receives generous arms supplies from the USA and EU states, shot dead at least 140 Palestinian protesters and injured thousands more in Gaza,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Arms Control and Human Rights.

“Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which enjoys the fulsome support of the UK, France, USA and others, continues to inflict devastating suffering on the Yemeni civilian population,” Wilcken added.

Amnesty said that the refusal of countries to suspend arms transfers to Saudi Arabia despite a growing number of possible war crimes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen “has become the emblematic case of irresponsible arms trading.”

Nevertheless, the organization noted progress by a growing number of countries refusing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia.

The Human Rights organization made the accusations ahead of the fourth annual Conference of States Parties (CSP) to the ATT.

“The Arms Trade Treaty states clearly that arms exports are prohibited if there is a real risk of them contributing to human rights violations. States who continue to supply arms to Saudi Arabia and Israel are therefore brazenly flouting the rules,” Amnesty accused.

The ATT regulates international trade in conventional arms from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships and prohibits the transfer of such weapons if there is a known risk that they could contribute to serious human rights violations and/or war crimes.

It entered into force on December 24, 2014, and has been ratified by 92 countries, including Israel.

According to Amnesty, the US is “by far” Israel’s largest supplier.  Other countries which supply Israel with arms and ammunition include Germany, France, Italy, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and South Korea.

Amnesty, which is known for frequently speaking out against Israel and extensively critiques the country for alleged violations of human rights, called for an arms embargo on Israel in April after weekly violent clashes along the Gaza border fence left over 100 Palestinians dead.

The organization claimed that during the protests, Israel carried out “intentional” and “murderous” attacks against Gazan civilians, including shooting protesters in the back.

“For four weeks the world has watched in horror as Israeli snipers and other soldiers, armed with full protective gear and behind the border fence, attack Palestinian demonstrators with live ammunition and tear gas,” Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director Magdalene Mugrabi said at the time.

“The nature of the reported injuries attests to the fact that Israeli soldiers are using weapons intended to cause maximum harm,” he said, adding: “These incidents appear to be deliberate attempts to kill or at least injure the protesters in a way that causes disability. This is a serious violation of the Geneva Convention and a war crime.”

Over 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the Great Return March protests began on March 30. One Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper and another officer was moderately wounded after he was shot by a sniper in the Kissufim area in an ambush.

The protests along the border have been called the greatest threats to Israeli security in the region since Operation Protective Edge in 2014 due to the combination of terror tunnels, riots, attempted infiltrations and the use of incendiary items.

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