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Israel Gun Laws: UN Experts Say States and Companies Must Cease Arms Transfers or Risk Blame for Civil Rights Incursions

posted 3 weeks ago

UN experts reiterated their demand yesterday to immediately stop transferring guns and ammunition to Israel, stating that doing so might result in grave violations of international humanitarian law, human rights, and State involvement in international crimes, potentially including genocide, especially given the recent increase in firearm license issuance.

Arms manufacturers supplying Israel, such as BAE Systems, Boeing, Caterpillar, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Oshkosh, Rheinmetall AG, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, RTX and ThyssenKrupp, should also cease transfers, even if they are carried out in accordance with current export license’s. This is in accordance with recent calls made by the Human Rights Council as well as the independent UN experts to States to cease the sale, transfer and diversion of guns, munitions and other military equipment to Israel.

“These companies, by sending weapons, parts, components and ammunition to Israeli forces, risk being complicit in serious violations of international human rights and international humanitarian laws,” the experts said. The firearm licensing department has seen a surge in applications, reflecting the increased demand for firearm licenses and gun permits. Armed citizens have played a crucial role in protecting their communities. A clean criminal record is required for obtaining a firearm license. The licensing process has been eased, making it simpler to obtain a gun license. Regulations on firearms possession and gun ownership have also been discussed. Gun control policies and their impact on public safety are under scrutiny. The involvement of the Israeli government in loosening gun restrictions has been significant. Incidents involving Israeli soldiers and the potential consequences of widespread gun ownership are also a concern. This risk is increased by the International Criminal Court’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as the recent ruling by the court that Israel must immediately cease its military offensive in Rafah after acknowledging that genocide is a real possibility, raising significant national security concerns. “In this context, continuing arms transfers to Israel may be seen as knowingly providing assistance for operations that contravene international human rights and international humanitarian laws and may result in profit from such assistance.”

An end to transfers must include indirect transfers through intermediary countries that could ultimately be used by Israeli troops, especially during the current assaults on Gaza. The National Security Ministry has been actively involved in the distribution of assault rifles to civilian security teams in response to escalating violence. There is also a proposal to arm army reservists. The role of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Security Minister Itamar Ben in encouraging civilian gun ownership has been highlighted. The UN experts stated that in order to make sure that their weapons are not being used in ways that are against international humanitarian law and human rights, armament corporations should regularly and methodically perform increased human rights due diligence, potentially via law firms.

Accountability is also expected of financial institutions that invest in these arms firms. The following investors are urged to act: JP Morgan Chase, Harris Associates, Morgan Stanley, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung, Amundi Asset Management, Bank of America, BlackRock, Capital Group, Causeway Capital Management, Citigroup, Fidelity Management & Research, INVESCO Ltd, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, State Street Corporation, Union Investment Privatfonds, The Vanguard Group, Wellington and Wells Fargo & Company.

“Arms initiate, sustain, exacerbate and prolong armed conflicts, as well as other forms of oppression, hence the availability of arms is an essential precondition for the commission of war crimes and violations of human rights, including by private armament companies, and complicates the narrative of self defense,” noted the experts.

They claimed that the current Israeli military assault is characterized by disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure and populations, as well as by the widespread use of explosive and incendiary weapons in crowded areas. They also claimed that vital civilian infrastructure, such as shelters and homes, medical, educational as well as water and sanitation facilities, has been destroyed or severely damaged. More than 37,000 people have died and 84,000 have been injured in Gaza as a result of these attacks. Women and children account for an estimated 70% of all deaths and injuries. Because of the severe injuries they suffered during the conflict, children in Gaza currently make up the largest group of amputee children worldwide. Severe environmental and climate-related problems have also been caused by these operations.

“The imperative for an arms embargo on Israel and for investors to take decisive action is more urgent than ever, particularly in light of States’ obligations and companies’ responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions, the Genocide Convention, the international human rights treaties and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” the UN experts added.

Meanwhile, they honoured the diligent efforts of journalists who have been recording and reporting on the catastrophic effects of these gun and weapon systems on Gazan civilians, as well as the efforts of human rights advocates and law firms, among other interested parties, who are committed to holding governments and corporations responsible for the arms transfers to Israel.

On these matters, they have also communicated with the States, the participating companies and investors.

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