General view at the opening day of the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 25, 2013 in Geneva. The Council kicks off with widespread abuses in North Korea and Mali the top items on the agenda, along with the crisis in Syria. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI

UNHRC to ignore Hamas, demand arms embargo on Israel

In a Palestinian-drafted resolution sponsored by the Arab and Islamic states, the UN Human Rights Council is tomorrow planning to ignore any mention of Hamas while calling for an arms embargo against Israel.

Following is an analysis of the draft resolution entitled “Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice”:
The UNHRC’s annual accountability resolution is the Council’s first opportunity since October 7th to express an official position on the Hamas atrocities committed that day and Israel’s ensuing war in Gaza. Not surprisingly, the text is completely one-sided against Israel. In the entire eight pages, it contains only one short paragraph—on Page 7—condemning the October 7th “targeting of civilians” and calling for the immediate release of “hostages and detainees.” Hamas is not mentioned once in the entire resolution. This resolution not only gives Hamas a complete free pass for horrific atrocities which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, but it actively encourages further such atrocities by denying Israel both the right and ability to defend itself.
Since 2021, this accountability resolution has been urging states to “refrain from transferring arms” to Israel when “they assess” that there is a “clear risk” of the weapons being used to commit international law violations. However, the draft resolution set to be adopted tomorrow goes even further. In Paragraph 13, it directly “calls upon” states to “cease” arms sales to Israel “to prevent further violations” of international law and human rights. Thus, having pre-determined that Israel has committed international law and human rights violations, the resolution then calls for an arms embargo against Israel. 


In doing so, the resolution also misrepresents the January 26, 2024 order of the International Court of Justice in the genocide case brought by South Africa against Israel, as “determining that there is a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza.” However, the order did not make any substantive determinations. It merely found that South Africa had asserted “plausible rights” on behalf of the Palestinians to be protected from genocide such that the ICJ could issue provisional measures. As recently explained by UK Lawyers for Israel “it is the rights of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that were determined to be plausible, and not the alleged commission of genocide against them.

The clear goal of this is to undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself against Hamas, and Palestinian terrorism generally, by denying it access to weapons. This is confirmed by language elsewhere in the resolution which outright denies Israel’s right to self-defense against the Hamas aggression by declaring that Israel “may not invoke the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations against territory that it occupies.” At the same time, the resolution fails to recognize any right of Israel to self-defense under customary international law.


Beyond the call for an arms embargo, the resolution also requests the UNHRC’s anti-Israel Commission of Inquiry headed by Navi Pillay (the “Pillay Commission”) to report on arms transfers to Israel, identify the weapons Israel has used in Gaza since October 7th, and “to analyze the legal consequences of these [arms] transfers.”

While the resolution itself is not legally binding, the Pillay Commission’s report could have legal consequences. Indeed, it was the Pillay Commission’s October 2022 report to the UN General Assembly that prompted it to include language in one of its annual anti-Israel resolutions that year requesting the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the legality of Israel’s occupation. That case is currently pending, with the Court’s opinion expected later this year.

The resolution encourages Hamas in other ways too. For example:

  • The resolution calls for “an immediate ceasefire” (Paragraph 3) but does not link a ceasefire to a demand for Hamas to release all Israeli hostages and surrender. Thus, the resolution completely fails to hold Hamas accountable for its October 7th crimes.
  • Despite evidence that at least 14 UNRWA teachers participated in the October 7th Hamas atrocities, that Hamas has completely infiltrated UNRWA’s staff and exploited its facilities for terrorist purposes, this resolution endorses UNRWA and urges its continued funding (Paragraph 32).
  • The resolution accuses Israeli officials of “incitement to genocide” (Paragraph 6) and implies that Israel’s war of self-defense against Hamas in Gaza, which it did not start or want, amounts to committing genocide against the Palestinians. At the same time, the resolution refuses to describe Hamas’s October 7th atrocities against Israeli civilians in terms of genocide and omits any criticism of Hamas officials for genocidal threats against Israel. The resolution mentions the word genocide 8 times, all against Israel.
  • The resolution also “welcomes” the International Criminal Court’s ongoing investigation into “the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” (Paragraph 9) which is part of a coordinated lawfare campaign being waged by the Palestinians to demonize and delegitimize Israel in the international arena, including at the UN. This demonization campaign ultimately serves the Hamas agenda.
  • It accuses Israel of torture and mistreatment against Palestinian prisoners (Paragraph 37) but omits any mention of the horrific details of Hamas’s October 7th atrocities, including mass rape and sexual violence against Israeli women, or torture and sexual violence against Israeli hostages in Gaza which is still ongoing.
  • It employs extremely harsh language—“appalled”—to criticize Israel for “the widespread and wanton destruction of residential areas and critical civilian infrastructure, including refugee camps, United Nations facilities, educational institutions, medical facilities, water, sanitation and telecommunication networks and fuel supplies by Israel, the occupying Power…” (emphasis added), while omitting any mention of Hamas use of the entire Gaza civilian population as human shields.
  • The resolution also accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing (Paragraph 4), forcible transfer (Paragraph 4), and starvation of civilians as a method of war (Paragraph 5), among other crimes, without providing necessary factual context of Hamas embedding itself among civilians, hoarding provisions, stealing humanitarian aid, which explain Israel’s conduct under International Humanitarian Law.
UN Watch