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GAPS Newsletter: January 2024

Welcome to GAPS January wrap up.

It has been over one week since the ICJ delivered its provisional measures orders in response to South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. Despite no measures ordered of halting military operations in Gaza, it is inferred that states would be complicit in acts of genocide if they continue aiding and abetting arms to Israel. Since the ICJ outcome, Israel has continued its bombardment of Gaza, including an airstrike on a residential compound housing IRC & MAP’s emergency medical team and family members, within an alleged ‘safe zone’. The UK has licensed more than £474 million worth of military exports to Israel since 2015; it holds responsibility under the Arms Trade Treaty to prevent weapons from being used in violation of international law and human rights. With its commitments to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, alongside tackling violence against women and girls, the UK Government must face more pressure than ever to cease military exports to Israel and call for a ceasefire, which GAPS continues to push for. 

Since then, the UK government, along with the US and other Western countries, has suspended funding to UNRWA in response to unsubstantiated allegations from Israel that UNRWA staff were involved in the events of October 7th, which serves as a collective punishment against more than 2 million Palestinians who depend on UNRWA for their survival. GAPS condemned this decision, which further contradicts the ICJ ruling that humanitarian assistance must be facilitated; it appears that the 6-page dossier available does not substantiate such allegations. This suspension to funding, along with the UK’s expression of ‘considerable concerns’ about the ICJ’s ruling, demonstrates the UK’s inconsistency. Looking back six weeks to The Gambia v. Myanmar case in the ICJ, the UK applied a wide definition of acts of genocide and supported claims against Myanmar, submitting a ‘declaration of intervention, while stating that South Africa’s decision to bring the case was wrong and provocative.  

It has now been two days since the UK and US launched further missile strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, after disruptive attacks on Red Sea shipping by Houthi forces to pressure an end to Israel’s war on Gaza. This action taken by Western nations demonstrates the focus on militarisation and reducing economic damage and the lack of prioritisation given to peacebuilding and conflict prevention.  

The situation in Sudan has worsened with over 600,000 people displaced in the last month, the expansion of fighting in central and eastern Sudan and 25 million people in humanitarian need. The UN Security Council Informal Expert Group on WPS met in January to discuss the situation in Sudan, calling for better women’s participation in political processes, protection and accountability for conflict-related sexual violence. In light of this, GAPS calls for stronger action taken to address sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in Sudan.  

The UK has launched a Gender Apartheid Inquiry this past month, to identify avenues to address the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan and Iran as a matter of urgent international concern, through the context of gender apartheid. A report is to be published with the findings and recommendations from oral hearings and an open call for submissions.  

January Reads

Gendered Alert: The Gendered Impact of Crisis in Gaza

Since 7 October 2023, more than 24,620 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, 70 per cent of whom were women or children. More than 1.9 million people — 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza — have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza — roughly 2.2 million people — are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse. This document provides an overview of the situation in Gaza and articulates UN Women’s work as part of its six-month multi-sectoral response to the crisis. Read the full report here. 

MAP and IRC statement: Israeli airstrike on Gaza compound

International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) can confirm further details of a near-fatal airstrike by the Israeli military on a residential compound housing our Emergency Medical Team (EMT) and members of MAP’s local team and their family members in Al Mawasi – the alleged ‘safe zone’ – in Gaza on 18 January, which caused injuries to several team members, significant damage to the building, and required the withdrawal of the six international members of the EMT from Gaza. Read the full article here.

Queering Peace and Security: Recommendations to the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

This document offers a vision and set of recommendations for the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IE-SOGI) to advance queer liberation and cultivate a burgeoning queer peace and security agenda. Acknowledging the links between this mandate and other UN priorities including the Social Development Goals, Women, Peace and Security (WPS), and the Secretary General’s Call to Action for Human Rights, it focuses on both priority issues and cross-agency actions that should be addressed by current and future IESOGI mandate holders to bolster queer people’s security and move towards peace for all. And GAPS’s very own, Detmer Kremer, contributed to this report! Read the full report here. 

In case you missed it

The UK and US have launched new strikes on Houthis in Yemen. The UK has said the attacks were ‘in self-defence’. The Sana’a centre published an analysis in response to the first strikes on January 12.

The EU has sanctioned six companies accused of undermining stability in Sudan. The firms sanctioned have been linked to weapons procurement and manufacturing.

The DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi has been sworn in for a second term following an election in December 2023. Opposition candidates did not attend the swearing-in ceremony and have questioned the legality of the vote.

Women prisoners in Iran have gone on mass hunger strike to protest for the abolishment of the death penalty. 61 women are now on hunger strike in Evin Prison in Tehran and have been joined by other imprisoned human rights defenders and family members.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has responded to South Africa’s case against Israel with provisional measures stating that Israel’s actions fall within the provisions of the convention and that Israel must enable provision of humanitarian relief to Gaza.

Job Board

Care International

Partnership Officer, London, (London). 20 February.

Conciliation Resources

Programme Manager- South Caucasus, (London). 12 February.

Programme Development Officer (maternity cover), (London), rolling basis.

International Alert
Conflict Sensitivity Helpdesk Advisor, (multiple locations), 12 February.

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