US has ‘blood on its hands’ over arms sales to Israel

Condemnation of deaths ‘deeply cynical’, says Amnesty’s Colm O’Gorman

Palestinians rest outside destroyed homes in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, yesterday. Photograph: Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times

Palestinians rest outside destroyed homes in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, yesterday. Photograph: Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times

Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 12:50

The US “will have more blood on its hands” if it continues to supply weapons to Israel for the Gaza conflict, the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland has said.

Colm O’Gorman described as “deeply cynical” Washington’s condemnation of the deaths of civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza “when it knows full well that the Israeli military responsible for such attacks are armed to the teeth with weapons and equipment supplied by the US”.

He was speaking ahead of a demonstration in Dublin this afternoon highlighting Amnesty’s international plea for an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict.

It follows reports that the Pentagon has approved the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to the Israeli armed forces from a US arms stockpile pre-positioned in Israel, as well as the shipment of 4.3 tons of US-manufactured rocket motors, which arrived in the Israeli port of Haifa on July 15th.

These deliveries add to more than $62 million worth of munitions, including guided missile parts and rocket launchers, artillery parts and small arms, already exported from the US to Israel between January and May this year, Amnesty said.

“If the US Government continues to supply arms to Israel and fuel for military vehicles and fighter jets being used in attacks which have caused many, many hundreds of civilian deaths and horrific injuries, it will have more blood on its hands,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“Instead of continuing to send shipments of fuel and arms to the Israeli military, the USA must immediately suspend all such transfers and back an international investigation into the atrocities being carried out by both sides.”

Amnesty is calling on the UN to impose a comprehensive arms embargo not only on Israel but also Hamas and Palestinian armed groups with the aim of preventing violations of international humanitarian law.

In the absence of a UN arms embargo, it said all states should unilaterally suspend transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to all parties to the conflict.

It noted Palestinian armed groups have continued to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel, endangering civilians “in flagrant violation of international law”. And Amnesty pointed out that the speaker of the Iranian parliament had confirmed that Iran had given both financial and military support to Hamas, including missile technology.

As for Israel, Amnesty said the US was by far the largest exporter of military equipment to the country. According to data made public by the US government, its arms transfers to Israel from January to May 2014 included nearly $27million for “rocket launchers”, $9.3 million worth in “parts of guided missiles” and nearly $762,000 for “bombs, grenades and munitions of war”.

“Cutting off the supply of weapons and military supplies which are used to commit serious breaches of international law is a key step in bringing to an end the current round of conflict,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“Those who supply arms to either side must recognise their responsibility for the appalling suffering inflicted upon civilians during the conflict. And those directly responsible for breaches of international law and war crimes must be held to account. Impunity for war crimes must end.”

Amnesty’s “Stop Arming Israel” demonstration takes place at3pm today at St Stephen’s Green end of Grafton Street, Dublin.