Pressure mounts for arms embargo on Israel

The UN Human Rights Council on April 5 adopted a resolution, A/HRC/55/L.30, reiterating the Security Council's call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza—and further calling for an embargo and prevention of the supply of weapons to Israel by UN Member States. HRC members approved the resolution with 28 votes in favor, six against and 13 abstentions.

The resolution called for Member States "to cease the sale, transfer and diversion of arms, munitions and other military equipment to Israel, the occupying Power…to prevent further violations of international humanitarian law and violations of abuses of human rights." Israel voted against the resolution, arguing that it was "anti-Israel" and biased.

The UN has been critical of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which is becoming increasingly dire. Deputy High Commissioner Nada al-Nashif described the situation as an "ongoing Nakba" at the Conference of Civil Society Organizations working on the Question of Palestine on April 3. He drew attention to the increasing civilian causalities, including aid and humanitarian workers. He stated:

As of 20 March, at least 196 humanitarians, including at least 175 UN workers, had been killed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since October 2023… As a result of attacks on hospitals and medical personnel and the sustained interference with humanitarian assistance, Palestinians in Gaza are dying of disease and hunger, if they are not killed by bombs… Israel's bombardment has flattened entire residential areas and the large-scale destruction of critical civilian infrastructure has rendered many parts of Gaza effectively uninhabitable. (Jurist)

Also Apri 5, some 40 Democratic members of the US House of Representatives signed a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to cease arms transfers to Israel in the wake of the air-strike that killed seven humanitarian aid workers in Gaza. (Jurist)

Also Apri 5, seven human rights lawyers filed a motion in the Berlin Administrative Court to halt Germany's arms exports to Israel. In the motion, the lawyers claim that the German government has committed the crime of aiding and abetting in the genocide of the Palestinian people living in Gaza by continuing to supply Israel with arms.

The initiative was supported by the European Support Legal Center (ELSC), the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD), and Law for Palestine, under their joint Justice & Accountability for Palestine Initiative. (Jurist)

A Human Rights Watch report released on April 4 stated that an Israeli air-strike conducted on a civilian apartment building on Oct. 31, 2023, was a war crime. The report calls the attack, which resulted in 106 civilian deaths, including 54 children, "among the deadliest single incidents for civilians" since Israel's invasion of Gaza. (Jurist)

See our last report on genocide accusations against Israel.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says three sons killed in air-strike

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh confirmed that three of his sons and four of his grandchildren were killed in an air-strike on their car at al-Shati camp near Gaza City. The group was reportedly on its way to a family celebration to mark the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid. The IDF said the sons were members of Hamas' military wing—a claim denied by Haniyeh. (BBC News)

The weekly demonstrations against the Netanyahu government meanwhile continue in Israel. Tens of thousands rallied in Tel Aviv April 6 after the IDF recovered the body of hostage Elad Katzir. Protesters chanted "elections now", and "Elad, we're sorry", local media reported. Later, police forcibly dispersed the crowd.

At one point, a car ploughed into the crowd, injuring five. Police detained the driver for questioning, local media reported. (BBC News, ToI)

Little sign of progress on Gaza aid

A week after Israel vowed to facilitate the delivery of more aid to the Gaza Strip, little has changed, according to humanitarian officials. The pledge followed significant international pressure after Israeli drone strikes killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen on April 1. Israel said it has dramatically increased the number of aid trucks entering Gaza, but the UN says numbers have only ticked up slightly. Israel also initially promised to open the Erez border crossing in the north of Gaza—where starvation is most acute and where humanitarian officials believe famine is taking place. That plan, however, has been scrapped in favor of constructing a new border crossing in the north. The first aid trucks reportedly entered Gaza through that crossing on April 12.

Getting aid into Gaza, however, is only part of the problem. Israel is setting up a center where humanitarian officials and military commanders can coordinate to ensure aid convoys are not targeted, but it's unclear when that will be functional. In the meantime, aid officials have said it’s not just the absence of a deconfliction process but the expansive rules of engagement the Israeli military is operating under that have led to the killing of unprecedented numbers of aid workers (as well as over 34,000 Palestinians) in the past six months. (TNH)

Israeli strikes on Rafah kill 22, including 18 children

Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight killed 22 people, including 18 children in te wee ours of April 21. The strikes come a day after the US Congress approved $26 billion in aid for Israel. Of this, $9 billion is lated for humanitarian assistance for Gaza. (AP, NYT)

Israeli military intelligence chief steps down

The Israeli military intelligence chief has resigned over his “leadership responsibility” for the Oct. 7 attacks. After the attacks, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva admitted to an “intelligence failure” by his unit. (CNN)

Mass grave found at Gaza hospital

A mass grave with nearly 300 bodies has been uncovered at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza Civil Defense workers said April 22, following the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area earlier this month. (CNN)

UN calls for investigation into Gaza mass graves

United Nations leaders demanded a "clear, transparent and credible" investigation April 23 after mass graves containing the bodies of hundreds of men and women were discovered on the grounds of two major hospitals in Gaza that were previously under assault by the Israeli military.

UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters that investigators must have complete access to the sites and ensured safety from the Israeli military.

A total of 283 bodies have been uncovered so far from Nasser hospital after Israeli forces withdrew on April 7. The UN Human Rights Council said more bodies were found at Gaza City's al-Shifa Hospital, the enclave’s largest health facility, which the rights body said was "an empty shell" after a two-week Israeli siege ended there on April 1.Palestinian victims were reportedly found stripped naked with their hands tied. 

Gaza's civil defense authorities said it uncovered many of the bodies from what appear to be temporary graves inside the Nasser complex as Israel's siege prevented access to cemeteries. The IDF says it exumed the grave to search for possible dead hostages. The bodies were presumably reburied, although it is not clear by whom.  

“Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law,” U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk said Tuesday. “And the intentional killing of civilians, detainees and others who are ‘hors de combat’ (incapable of engaging in combat) is a war crime.” (The Hill, UN News, Al Jazeera, ToI)