Once again, bloodshed has become the backdrop to the First Committee’s work. Last weekend, horrific violence exploded in Israel and Palestine. On Saturday, 7 October, Hamas attacked Israel with thousands of rockets, broke through the border fence enclosing Gaza, and killed and detained hundreds of Israelis. Hamas’ brutal attacks against civilians are violations of international law and war crimes. In response, Israel has escalated its own war crimes, intensifying its siege of Gaza and carpet bombing the open-air prison it created to effectively imprison more than two million Palestinians for 17 years under the apartheid policies of a settler colonial state.
The catastrophic consequences of Israel’s 75-year occupation of Palestine largely dominated the First Committee’s interactive “right of reply” segments this past week. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, with both explosive and incendiary weapons, is particularly relevant for the Committee’s work. But the larger dynamics at play all point to the wider issues underscoring all First Committee work, including militarism, colonialism, and hypocrisy.
To read the full article and explore the in-depth analysis of the ongoing conflict and the urgent need for peace, click on the link below.
“We must act. We must do what we can, no matter how little it may seem, to save lives. A ceasefire is the first step. For any of us to abdicate from our responsibility to act is to once again go along silently in the stream of bloodshed.”Joshua P. Hill
Taking action to break the cycle of violence
It is imperative to prevent further atrocities and loss of life. For this, an immediate ceasefire and a release of those detained by both Hamas and Israel is necessary. A durable and fair peace will only be achieved by eliminating the root causes of violence and oppression. The international community cannot wait for yet another escalation of hostilities to create a realistic path for justice and peace. It must act now.
Despite the repression of those speaking out against the ethnic cleansing and potential genocide of Palestinians, there has been an outpouring of solidarity globally from Baghdad to Paris. Activists in the United States have organised direct actions against companies supplying weapons to Israel, such as L3Harris and Elbit Systems. Some governments have spoken out against Israel’s siege and bombardment of Gaza.
All members states and the responsible bodies of the UN must uphold the UN Charter and other international law, including by:
- Calling for an immediate ceasefire;
- Calling for an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas by all parties, and for an end to the use of incendiary weapons by Israel;
- Demanding that Israel lift the siege on Gaza and ensure access to goods essential to the survival of the people in the enclave;
- Demanding that Israel abide by its obligations under international law and make all necessary efforts to protect civilian populations in the Occupied Palestinian territories, and also calling on Israel to end the occupation;
- Reinstating humanitarian aid so as to avoid collective punishment of Palestinians by donors and member states;
- Initiating a UN-brokered process for peace and justice that centres Palestinian voices and perspectives to enable a move towards peace;
- Ending military and other support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its apartheid regime, including by imposing an arms embargo on Israeli weapon imports and exports;
- Not criminalising, condemning, or repressing nonviolent action in solidarity with Palestinians;
- Implementing the recommendations in the 2022 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; and
- Recognising Palestinian statehood.
Delegations to the First Committee have an opportunity to support the above, particularly on the issues related to weapons and armed violence, including by:
- Calling on Israel to stop its indiscriminate bombing of Gaza and to endorse the Political Declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas;
- Calling on Israel to stop its use of white phosphorus and working to strengthen the Convention on Conventional Weapons protocol on incendiary weapons;
- Supporting a two-way arms embargo on Israel, as consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty;
- Calling on Israel to end the siege, ethnic cleansing, and possible genocide in Gaza and urging all governments to not support these actions and to uphold their legal responsibility to prevent genocide; and
- Urging delegates not to use language that dehumanises people or that seeks to justify war crimes and other violations of international law.