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Is it Biden’s stance on Gaza genocide that influenced countries to restrict arms exports to Israel?

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Since the start of the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip last October, resulting in killing and injuries of civilians including women and children, activists and human rights organizations have been calling for the suspension of the transfer of weapons to Israel, due to their use against civilians.

Last April, the United Nations Human Rights Council called for arms sales to Israel against the backdrop of the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, which resonated in Europe and elsewhere and sparked a discussion about the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

For its part, Israel denies committing any violations and says that it is fighting Hamas militants who do not believe in its existence and launched a militant attack on October 7 called Operation Al-Aqsa floods.

Recently, the International Court of Justice examined a legal case filed by Nicaragua to prevent military sales to Israel and demanded that it take urgent measures, accusing Germany of violating the 1948 Convention for the Prevention of Genocide by supplying Israel with weapons that it uses against civilians in Gaza.

The court rejected this request, based on Germany’s assertion that it does not export any “weapons of war” for use by Israeli forces.

Earlier, The Eastern Herald reported that the last round of negotiations in Cairo aimed at brokering a ceasefire to halt Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in genocide and ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians, ended without resolution, further deepening the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Despite intensive discussions, Israel’s rejection of proposed terms for a ceasefire agreement and its subsequent ground invasion in Rafah indicate a calculated strategy to maintain leverage.

Also, the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the occupied Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese, labeled Israel’s military aggression in Gaza as genocide, citing over 30,000 Palestinian deaths, including more than 13,000 children, and 71,000 injuries. She urged immediate sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel. Israel rejected the findings, maintaining its conflict is with Hamas, not civilians. Gulf and African nations supported Albanese’s report, while the US, Israel’s ally, abstained from the session.

The Eastern Herald reviews the movements witnessed by some countries around the world to try to stop, restrict, or suspend the transfer of weapons to Israel.

In the United States, the White House announced at the beginning of the month the halt of a shipment of bombs intended for Israel due to the Israeli military invasion of Rafah. The shipment includes 1,800 bombs, each weighing 2,000 pounds (907 kg), and 1,700 bombs, each weighing 500 pounds (226 kg).

At the time, the United States said it would not transfer certain weapons to Israel if it launched an attack on densely populated areas in Rafah.

But on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the administration of President Joe Biden notified Congress on Tuesday that it would move forward with new arms deals to Israel worth more than a billion dollars.

US officials said the latest weapons package includes the potential transfer of $700 million worth of tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar shells.

Before the latest move in Washington, US allies had already reviewed their policies regarding supplying weapons to Israel.

Last March, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie announced a halt to arms exports to Israel after a non-binding resolution from the House of Commons.

Jolie told the Toronto Star newspaper that “It is a real thing,” in statements that followed a majority of Liberal MPs voting in favor of the measure, but some Jewish groups considered that it undermined Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas.

Last March, the Italian government took a decision to suspend new licenses to export weapons to Israel, while continuing to export weapons under contracts that were signed before the decision.

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto told Parliament that previously signed orders would be implemented only after checks were conducted to ensure that weapons were not used against civilians in Gaza, according to Reuters.

Under Italian law, arms exports to countries waging war and those deemed to be violating international human rights are prohibited.

The Spanish government had pledged to suspend arms exports to Israel, but last February, local reports revealed that the government had not done so, as per the official European Union portal.

Last March, the Spanish House of Representatives approved a draft law calling on the government to impose a ban on the export of weapons to Israel, a draft submitted by civil society organizations and movements that reject the war, but the government’s position on it is not yet clear.

In the Netherlands, a lawsuit forced the government to stop sales of spare parts for F-35 fighter jets due to fears that they would be used in violation of international law, according to a report published in the Library of US Congress.

The Court of Appeal ordered the state to comply with the decision.

The court said: “It is undeniable that there is a clear risk the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

The lawsuit was filed by human rights groups, including Oxfam.

Last April, civil society groups in Germany filed a lawsuit to stop the transfer of 3,000 anti-tank weapons to Israel.

Germany is the second largest supplier of military equipment to Israel, after the United States, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Reports indicate that German arms sales to Israel have been restricted amid pressure on the government.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights said that the government issued a license to export 3,000 pieces of anti-tank weapons to Israel after October 2023, but a request for a permit to export 10,000 rounds of ammunition has not yet been approved, according to Reuters.

The German government has previously said it examines all arms exports and takes into account human rights and humanitarian law.

Alexander Schwartz, the center’s lawyer, told Reuters that he expects a judicial decision to be issued within four and six weeks regarding the latest lawsuit, and if the lawsuit is rejected, an appeal can be filed before the Federal Constitutional Court in Germany, which is its highest legal body.

In April, 11 non-governmental organizations filed lawsuits to force France to stop sending weapons to Israel, according to the investigative website Disclose.

Under the headline “French-Israeli defense cooperation is under pressure,” the French newspaper Le Monde reported, in a report issued on May 4, that since the beginning of the war, some countries that continue to export weapons to Israel, including France, have faced continuous criticism.

It explains that France exports to Israel only a small amount of its total military exports: 0.2 percent of a total of 27 billion euros in 2022.

Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview on April 21 that these export licenses relate “mainly to spare parts transfers.”

However, some equipment can be reused into more complex components.

On March 26, Disclose and the Marsakto website revealed a shipment of ammunition that was destined for a company affiliated with the Israeli defense company Elbit Systems.

According to the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, this license only allows re-export and not use by the Israeli army.

A government source said that “there’s a very clear desire on France’s part not to help operations in Gaza and to take as few risks as possible in arms deliveries”

The Human Rights Watch says, “Mounting public and legal pressure is making it harder for governments such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Denmark to continue selling arms to Israel.”

“Biden’s shift in tone will add to the pressure,” The HRW added.

“In the face of continuing atrocities, “full-blown famine” in northern Gaza, and Israel’s obstruction of aid for Gaza, these countries need to stop sending weapons now,” according to the organization.

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