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Impose Targeted Sanctions and Arms Embargo to Prevent Atrocities

Statement on High Commissioner OPT Report, February 29

We’re witnessing killings and repression at a scale unprecedented in the recent history of Israel and Palestine. The High Commissioner’s report underscores the gravity and severity of the abuses taking place on the ground. More than 1,200 Israeli and foreign nationals in Israel and 29,700 Palestinians in Gaza, the majority of them civilians, have been killed since October 7, according to local authorities, amid hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups that have included unlawful attacks and mass atrocities. Meanwhile, killings, administrative detention, displacement and settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank reached years-long highs.

The heinous crimes carried out by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups since October 7 are the abhorrent legacy of decades-long impunity for unlawful attacks by all parties and Israel’s crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians. The international community’s long-standing unwillingness to act to hold perpetrators to account has fueled grave abuses.

As Israeli authorities contemplate forcing the over 1 million Palestinians in Rafah to again flee when there’s nowhere safe in Gaza—a move that would be unlawful and have catastrophic consequences — states should act to prevent further atrocities.

Human Rights Watch has found that Israel is not complying with at least one of the binding provisional measures issued by the International Court of Justice in the genocide case brought by South Africa. States should use all forms of leverage, including targeted sanctions and an arms embargo, to press the Israeli government to comply with the binding order and to press the Israeli government and Palestinian armed groups to end unlawful attacks and other grave abuses. The lives of millions of civilians hang in the balance.

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