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Conflict Weekly
Six Months of War in Gaza & the Mexico-Ecuador spat

  IPRI Team

Conflict Weekly #223, 12 April 2024, Vol.5, No.15
An initiative by NIAS-IPRI

Shamini Velayutham and Dhriti Mukherjee

The War in Gaza:
Between Talks in Cairo and an Impending Military Offensive in Rafah

Shamini Velayutham

In the news
On 10 April, US President Joe Biden, in an interview, criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his announcement on the ground invasion of Rafah. He stated: “I think what he's doing is a mistake. I don't agree with his approach.” He added that Gaza should have “total access to all food and medicine” for the next six to eight weeks. 

On 9 April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-emphasised his position that the war’s victory depends on a ground military offensive in Rafah. He added: “There is no force in the world that will stop us. There are many forces that are trying to do so, but it will not help since this enemy, after what it did, will never do it again.”

On the same day, in response to Netanyahu’s announcement, the US Department of State spokesperson, Matthew Miller, asserted that the US has not been briefed on Rafah. He stated: “We have made clear to Israel that we think a full-scale military invasion of Rafah would have an enormously harmful effect on those civilians and that it would ultimately hurt Israel’s security.”

On 8 April, following the arrival of the representatives from Israel, Hamas, and the US in Cairo for talks, the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel Katz, said that negotiations have reached a “critical point.” The terms were rejected by Hamas as “nothing new.” Katz stated: “We’ve reached a critical point,” adding that “if matters work out, a large number of hostages will return home and then, in stages, everyone. But remember that we are dealing with Hamas and there is not a lot of time. I am more optimistic than I was.”

On 7 April, in Khan Younis, the 98th division of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) declared that it had “concluded its mission” and withdrawn from the city. To “recuperate and prepare for future operations,” the division was departing the Gaza Strip. Following the withdrawal, IDF Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi declared that the military was far from ending its operations in the Gaza Strip. He said: “We will not leave any Hamas brigades active in any part of the Gaza Strip. We have plans and will act when we decide.” Subsequently, the Israeli Minister of Defence, Yoav Gallant, announced that the troops were pulling out of Gaza to get ready for the mission in Rafah. He added that the Israeli forces in Khan Younis were successful in destroying “enemy targets, warehouses, weapons, infrastructures, headquarters and communication rooms.”

Issues at large
First, the state of six months of War in Gaza. Following a horrible attack on Israel by the Hamas on 7 October 2023 and kidnappings, the former began a war targeting the latter in Gaza. At first, the attacks were focused on northern Gaza. After a failed humanitarian pause mediated by Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and the US in November 2023, the IDF started its ground operation in southern Gaza, targeting Khan Younis. The city is the home to many prominent leaders of Hamas.  According to the Health Ministry of Palestine, during the last six months, more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed. Meanwhile, the Israeli army claims that 600 Israeli soldiers were killed in fighting the Hamas. There were repeated ceasefire talks in Egypt, Qatar, and Washington, but were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, at the United Nations, there were multiple attempts to reach a consensus and to bring a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas. Despite the efforts of the mediators to secure a truce, and pressure from the international community on Netanyahu’s government, the war continues.

Second, the failed ceasefire attempts. In March, Biden stated that his administration is working towards securing a six-week ceasefire in Gaza starting from 10 March, during the holy month of Ramadan. However, it did not happen. On 22 March, the US proposed a draft resolution at the United Nations, calling for an immediate ceasefire. However, it was ruled out as Russia, Algeria and China voted against the resolution. Although the UNSC passed the ceasefire resolution on 25 March, which aimed at halting the hostilities in Gaza, the Israeli military continued its operations in major cities of Gaza. The renewed call for a ceasefire during negotiations in Egypt is stalled as the mediators are unable to bring the parties to agree.

Third, the state of negotiations between Israel and Hamas aided by regional actors and the US. Qatar, Egypt and the US have invested substantially in bringing the two actors to the table and reached a ceasefire during the last six months. But these talks have failed to reach a common minimum agreement between the two. Hamas is demanding an end to the Israeli operations, the withdrawal of Israeli forces, and the release of Palestinians in Israeli jails. Israel wants the release of hostages and the destruction of the Hamas network across Gaza. The negotiations so far have failed to find a common ground.

Fourth, the demographic and strategic importance of Rafah. The town borders Egypt, and according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, its population was around 267,000 in 2022. Since the war began in October 2023, 1.5 million civilians from the rest of Gaza have taken refuge in Rafah. For Israel, after the military operations in the rest of Gaza, Rafah is the last hideout of the Hamas. 

In perspective
First, the elusive ceasefire. The recent killing of the Hamas’ political chief Ismail Haniyeh’s relatives further complicates the negotiations that are aimed at securing an end to the hostilities. According to the latest reports, Hamas are unable to trace 40 Israeli hostages, while Israel demands the release of the hostages in the first phase of the ceasefire. 

Second, impending military operations in Rafah. It would result in a greater number of causalities, leading to a dire humanitarian situation, and complicate the ceasefire negotiations further.

Latin America: Mexico suspends diplomatic ties with Ecuador 
Dhriti Mukherjee

In the news
On 3 April, Mexican President, Andres Manual Lopez Obrador, commented that Ecuador President Daniel Noboa “suspiciously” won Ecuador’s elections by “taking advantage” of the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. This statement resulted in Ecuador’s government declaring Mexico’s ambassador, Raquel Serur, as a persona non grata on 4 April. Ecuador’s presidential office asserted: “The national government defends national sovereignty, without allowing anyone to interfere in the country’s internal matters.”  

On 5 April, Ecuadorian special forces equipped with tactical gear forcefully entered the Mexican embassy and arrested Glas. Earlier on that day, Mexico’s foreign ministry announced that it had offered political asylum to Ecuador’s former Vice President, Jorge Glas, who had been staying in Mexico’s embassy since December 2023, and emphasised that Ecuador was “obliged to immediately grant” Glas “safe passage.” Obrador described the forceful entry and arrest of Glas as an “authoritarian act” and “a flagrant violation of international law and sovereignty of Mexico.”

On 6 April, the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alicia Bárcena, announced the “immediate” suspension of diplomatic ties with Ecuador. The Organization of American States (OAS) expressed “solidarity with those who were victims of the inappropriate actions that affected the Mexican Embassy in Ecuador.” 

On 7 April, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said that the office was “alarmed at the forced entry of Ecuadorian security forces into the premises of the Mexican embassy.” 

On 9 April, US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, criticised the Ecuadorian government for having “disregarded its obligations under international law as a host state to respect the inviolability of diplomatic missions,” and asked the countries to “find a resolution to this diplomatic dispute” together.

Issues at large
First, the sanctity of diplomatic missions. Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations sets rules on diplomatic immunity which blocks authorities from entering embassies by force. Under this, the premises of an embassy are “inviolable,” and the “agents of the receiving state” cannot enter without the “consent of the head of the mission.” Further, it lays down that the “premises of the mission,” along with furnishings, property, and transport, are “immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.” 

Second, adherence to the law regarding embassies. Although countries adhere to international law protecting embassies, there have been a few cases of violation of the same. Recently, on 1 April 2024, Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus was destroyed in a suspected Israeli missile strike. Embassies have in the past, sheltered dissidents. Ecuador gave asylum to the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from 2012 to 2019 after he was ordered by a London court to be extradited to Sweden over rape allegations. This resulted in the British government threatening to raid Ecuador’s embassy, which Ecuador’s government described as a “clear breach of international law.” In March 2024, the Argentinian embassy in Caracas gave refuge to the Venezuelan opposition coalition and in 1979, Iran took over the US Embassy in Tehran. 

Third, corruption charges against Glas. Jorge Glas was the vice president of Ecuador during 2013-17. He was forced out of office in 2017 and sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of receiving USD 13.5 million in bribes. Later in 2020, he was found guilty of issuing public contracts in exchange for money between 2012 and 2016. After being released from prison in November 2022, he faced more charges from prosecutors over allegedly embezzling public funds. The trial was deemed controversial, and on 18 December 2023, Ecuador’s Attorney General Diana Salazar claimed Glas was given parole as Ecuadorian drug trafficker Leandro Norero bribed judges. He sought asylum from Mexico and has been staying on the embassy’s grounds since December 2023. 

In perspective
First, a rocky road ahead for Ecuador. Following the incident, Latin American countries explicitly expressed support for Mexico and harshly criticised Ecuador. On 6 April, countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Venezuela rebuked Ecuador. Brazil’s government said Ecuador’s actions were a “clear violation” of international norms and “must be subject to strong repudiation.” Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said Latin America should “keep alive the precepts of international law in the midst of the barbarism.” On the same day, Nicaragua announced it would also sever diplomatic ties with Ecuador. This collectively harsh reaction could have negative implications for Ecuador’s regional ties. 

Second, a potential case against Ecuador in the ICJ. On 8 April, Mexico said it would file a case against Ecuador at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Barcena stated that the “behaviour of the Government of Ecuador was disproportionate and must not set a precedent.” She asked the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) member states to “back the lawsuit” and “demonstrate to the international community that breaches of international law are unacceptable.” 

Third, strain in bilateral relations. While the two countries have largely maintained positive relations, the rift could hamper relations to a significant extent. Apart from Ecuador’s actions, Obrador’s comments on the elections in Ecuador wherein he questioned Noboa’s victory indicate tensions may persist between the two leaders.

Issues in Peace and Conflict This Week:
Regional Roundups

Akriti Sharma, Rohini Reenum, Akhil Ajith, Anu Maria Joseph, Femy Francis, Padmashree Anandhan, Dhriti Mukherjee, Shamini Velayutham, and Navinan GV

East and Southeast Asia
China: Talks on Eurasian security cooperation with Russia
On 9 April, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, stated that Russia and China have agreed to strengthen security cooperation across Eurasia, countering the US attempts to impose its will on the region. Lavrov was talking to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during his visit to Beijing. Following the talks, Lavrov stated that China and Russia agreed to "start a dialogue with the involvement of our other like-minded people on this issue.” He added: "For a long time, there was a Euro-Atlantic security structure in the form of NATO, of course, as well as the OSCE, but it is striking itself out from the list of relevant structures within which it is possible to conduct meaningful negotiations and agree on something based on a balance of interests.” Wang Yi added that two countries should oppose “hegemonism and any 'small circle' that engages in bloc confrontation,” and that “NATO should not extend its hand to our common homeland.” Russia and China declared a no-limits partnership in February 2022 before the invasion of Ukraine. 

China: US remarks on AUKUS “dangerous,” says Taiwan Affairs Office
On 10 April, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office described US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell’s comments on AUKUS’s role in deterring Chinese moves against Taiwan as “dangerous.” Spokesperson Zhu Fenglian commented that the AUKUS submarine project between the US, the UK, and Australia aiming at countering China is provoking military confrontation in the region. The project, which involves Australia acquiring nuclear-powered attack submarines, was finalised in 2023. Campbell said that the new submarine capabilities would ensure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Szhu opposed his comments that it violates the One China principle and endangers peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. 

Taiwan: “No losers in peace,” says KMT leader, while visiting China
On 8 April, Kuomintang (KMT) leader and former Taiwanese President, Ma Ying-jeou, visited China with 11 youth delegates and inferred that there are “no losers in peace.” He called on the younger generation to “resolve disputes peacefully.” He stated: “People in both the mainland and Taiwan had been bullied by Japanese warlords, and suffered heavy casualties. Although we were lagging in terms of equipment and training in a disadvantaged situation, we were united in our determination.” The visit to Beijing was part of commemorating the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). During the visit, he held talks with President Xi Jinping. Xi stated: “Compatriots on the two sides are both Chinese. There is no grudge that cannot be resolved. No problem that cannot be talked through. And there are no forces that can separate us.” He added that “foreign interference” would not stop the “family reunion” and called both sides for a “peaceful reunification.” 

Taiwan: Annual War Games 2024 
On 9 April, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence stated that its annual war games 2024 would practice “kill” zones at sea to break a blockade and respond to a situation where Chinese regular drills turn into a real offensive. The annual Han Kuang exercises would take place in April and be followed by actual combat exercises in July. The head of the ministry’s joint combat planning department, Tung Chih-Hsing, stated that the drills would include a speedy response to a sudden Chinese offensive. He added that the drills involve naval, air, and coast guard forces, shore-mounted anti-ship weapons, and drones to establish a maritime “attack-and-kill chain.” 

Australia: Security cooperation with Taiwan
On 8 April, deputy chair of Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Andrew Wallace, met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei. During the meeting, Wallace emphasised that security cooperation is “paramount” considering the changing geopolitical landscape. He stated: “Taiwan and Australia both recognize the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Our partnership, our strategic partnership, contributes significantly to regional security.” Tsai responded: "Faced with authoritarian expansionism, democracies today must stand together and bolster cooperation."

South Korea: Launches second indigenous spy satellite
On 7 April, South Korea launched its second indigenous spy satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the US. The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite produces ultra-high-resolution images of objects on the ground. The South Korean Ministry of Defence stated that launching the first military SAR satellite strengthened the country’s intelligence monitoring and surveillance capability. It added that the launch of the second satellite aims to reduce the country’s reliance on the US and increase its reconnaissance capabilities by launching five similar satellites by 2025. 

South Asia
Pakistan: Investigation finds involvement of TTP in recent terror attacks
On 6 April, Business Recorder reported that Pakistani investigators collected evidence on the involvement of the banned Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the recent terror attacks. A senior government official pointed out: “Pakistan’s stated policy has thus far been that it would not hold any talks with the TTP and that the Afghan interim government is bound under the Doha agreement to take action against all militant organisations, including TTP that have taken refuge in Afghanistan.” Previously on 4 April, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, clarified that Pakistan had “no plans to hold talks with TTP” and expects “the Afghan authorities to take action against these terror groups and their leadership for the crimes they are committing and the terrorist attacks for which they are responsible in Pakistan.” The statement was made after senior Taliban official Muhammad Nabi Omari advised Pakistan and the TTP to resolve their issues through talks.

Pakistan: Multiple militant attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan
On 5 and 6 April, six security personnel and 12 militants were killed in separate incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s city of Dera Ismail Khan, during an intelligence-based operation, eight militants were killed. Separately on 6 April, two suspected militants were killed in North Waziristan by security forces. On 5 April, three police officers were killed, and another was injured in Lakki Marwat in an attack by armed men. The attack was condemned by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, who said that “cowardly terrorist activities” could not deter the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police. Separately, a police officer was killed in Bajaur in Balochistan province after an explosive device went off. 

Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa
Iran: Jaish al-Adl attacks IRGC headquarters in Sistan-Baluchistan
On 4 April, Al Jazeera reported on an attack on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) headquarters in the Sistan-Baluchestan province. The attack took place in the Chabahar and Rask towns of the province, leaving 11 Iranian security force members dead. Al Jazeera correspondent, Dorsa Jabbari, stated: “Gunmen stormed various security and military compounds simultaneously … and they also had suicide vests on.” The clashes between the security forces and the members of the Jaish al-Adl group killed 16 members militants. Deputy Minister of Interior, Majid Mirahmadi, revealed that “the terrorists failed to succeed in achieving their goal of seizing the Guards headquarters in Chabahar and Rask.” 

Iran: IRGC vows retaliation against Israeli attack on consulate in Syria 
On 5 April, Iran celebrated Al-Quds Day with rallies and demonstrations across the country. Al-Quds Day was established after the Iranian revolution of 1979 by the country’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It is an annual event to express solidarity with Palestine and oppose the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel. The celebrations this year were overshadowed by the loss of Iranian lives in two recent attacks including the Israeli air strikes in Damascus and the Jaish al-Adl attack on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) headquarters in the Sistan-Baluchistan province. Addressing a gathering in Tehran, the commander-in-chief of IRGC, Hossein Salami, stated: “We warn that no action by any enemy concerning our holy establishment [the Islamic Republic] will go unanswered.”

Lebanon: Israeli airstrike results in causalities
On 5 April, the Israeli military fired bombs over the towns of Ramyah and Aita Al-Shabb. On 6 April, Arab News reported that the Israeli airstrikes on southern Lebanon killed eight members of Hezbollah. In response, Hezbollah launched Burkan rockets against the Israeli military site in the western Galilee region. Separately, on 8 April, a senior Lebanese forces official, Pascal Sleiman, was killed by kidnappers while trying to steal his car. 

Yemen: Houthis target the US and the UK vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden
On 10 April, the Houthi rebels asserted that they targeted four vessels including the US warship carrying drones and naval missiles in the Gulf of Aden. According to Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sarea, the group attacked “MSC Darwin ship, MSC GINA, MV Yorktown” besides the US warship. Separately, on 7 April, the Houthi rebels asserted that they attacked the UK, the US, and Israeli ships in the Red Sea. According to intelligence received by the UK security company, Ambrey, a vessel was attacked in the Gulf of Aden, 102 nautical miles southwest of Mukalla, Yemen.

Sudan: Junta to hand over power only to its supporters
On 11 April, Sudanese military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan stated that the army "will not hand over the authority of our state to any internal or external party.” He added: "Anyone who conspired against the Sudanese people inside and outside the country will not have any role to play in the future running of this country.” He warned that democratic rule would not return to the country until the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which began in April 2023 ends. Peace talks mediated by the US between the warring parties were expected to resume in Jeddah after Eid. However, the RSF leader, Hamdan Dagalo, stated that “there is no other option for the Rapid Support Forces but victory.”

Sudan: UN begins to distribute aid in Darfur
On 5 April, Al Jazeera reported that the UN began distributing food in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan. The move came after months of warning of a looming famine in the region. According to the UN aid agencies, the war between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) has left 18 million people facing acute hunger. In March, UNICEF warned that 222,000 children could die of malnutrition in the region. 

Mali: Junta suspends all political activities
On 11 April, BBC reported that the Malian junta suspended all political activities in the country. Military spokesperson, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, stated that the decision was taken amidst “sterile discussions” during the national dialogue this year. He said that all the activities of political parties are suspended to maintain public order. The announcement came after more than 80 political parties and civil groups called for presidential elections “as soon as possible” to end the military rule. Previously, the junta had agreed to hold elections in February, but were postponed without details. 

Niger: Junta doubles demand for the withdrawal of the US troops
On 8 April, Niger’s junta doubled its demand for the withdrawal of the US troops. In March, the country’s military leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, ended the military agreement with the US and asked the troops to withdraw after accusing it of interfering in the country’s internal affairs and trying to control its foreign relations. The junta doubled the demand stating: “How can we talk about the interests of Niger when the United States of America does not pay a single kopeck [Russian unit of money] to Niger for stationing its forces on our territory?” According to BBC, at least 650 US troops are stationed in Niger to monitor the Islamist militancy. 

Djibouti: 38 migrants die off the coast of Djibouti
On 9 April, Al Jazeera quoted the International Organization of Migration (IOM) that at least 38 migrants including children died after their boat capsized off the coast of Djibouti. IOM stated that since 2014, nearly 1,000 people have died while crossing the “Eastern Route.” The route takes migrants from Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti through Yemen to Arab countries. 

Europe and the Americas
Georgia: Protests against controversial “foreign agent” bill
On 8 April, several demonstrators gathered in the streets of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, following the introduction of the controversial bill which brands civil society groups as “foreign agents.” In March 2023, after a public outcry and international condemnation, the government was forced to drop the bill. The previous week, the ruling Georgian Dream party announced the revival of the bill without changes. The protesters waved placards equating their government to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under the law, organisations which receive more than 20 per cent of their funding from abroad have to register as “foreign agents” and adhere to administrative rules or else face substantial fines. The proposal has strained relations with the EU with High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, noting that its “chilling effect” would have “negative consequences for the many Georgians benefiting from their (civil society) work.” He added that the law was “incompatible with EU values and standards.”

Greece: “High risk” alert amid early wildfires
On 7 April, Deutsche Welle reported that the wildfire season in Greece began earlier than usual after a record-warm winter with at least 70 reported forest fires. Several regions have been declared as “high-risk,” which is the second highest level of wildfire alert. The majority of the fires, except for the one on the island of Crete, were brought under control. According to Greece’s Ministry of Civil Protection, strong winds up to 60 kilometres per hour are expected until 9 April in Athens, the Cyclades islands, and Crete, which could make “the situation extremely dangerous for the outbreak of fires.” 

Germany: Troops to the permanent Lithuania force
On 8 April, Deutsche Welle reported that Germany sent the first group of soldiers who would be part of the country’s permanent military base in Lithuania. Panzerbrigade 45, the advanced team of 20 soldiers, would be joined by around 4,800 soldiers into a fully operational force by 2027. The deployment aims to deter further Russian attacks on its neighbours. The German Minister of Defence, Boris Pistorius, marked the first time they have “permanently stationed such a unit outside Germany.” Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, stated that the move could escalate tensions.

The Netherlands: Greta Thunberg detained during protest against fuel subsidies 
On 6 April, Deutsche Welle reported that Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was arrested by the Dutch authorities twice after she joined Extinction Rebellion protesters to block a motorway in The Hague. The demonstration was against the Dutch fossil fuel subsidies. Dutch police announced that more than 400 people were arrested as they ignored the orders to disperse. Extinction Rebellion asserted that it intends to continue the protests until the government stops using public funds to subsidise the gas and oil industry. 

Switzerland: ECtHR rules government did not do enough to combat climate change
On 9 April, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the Swiss government had violated the human rights of its citizens by not taking sufficient measures to combat climate change. The verdict favoured more than 2,000 Swiss women who brought up the case. However, the ECtHR rejected two other climate-related cases on procedural grounds. The Swiss women, aged above 55, filed the case claiming that the lack of action from the government put them at risk of dying during heatwaves, especially considering their age and gender. Court President, Siofra O’Leary, stated: “It is clear that future generations are likely to bear an increasingly severe burden of the consequences of present failures and omissions to combat climate change.” In response to the ruling, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice stated that they would “ analyse the extensive judgment and review what measures Switzerland will take in the future.” 

Germany: Legal teams reject allegation of aiding genocide in Gaza in ICJ case
On 9 April, the legal adviser for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Nicaragua’s case accusing Germany of aiding genocide in Gaza by selling arms to Israel was rushed and based on flimsy evidence. She emphasised that arms exports were scrutinised for adherence to international law, and that “Germany is doing its utmost to live up to its responsibility vis-a-vis both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.” According to the Ministry of Economics, Germany is one of the largest military suppliers to Israel, having sent USD 353.7 million in equipment and weapons in 2023. 

Mexico: Protesters set state government building on fire
On 8 April, protesters set the state government building and dozens of cars in the parking lot on fire in Chilpancingo, the capital of the state of Guerrero. Protesters demanded justice in the case of the disappearance of 43 students from a rural teacher’s college in 2014. The Guerrero state government stated that it “regrets and condemns the violent acts.” The administration announced that the police officers involved in the death are being investigated. 

Canada: Government announces increase in military expenditure 
On 8 April, amid pressure from the US, Canada announced that it would spend billions more on the armed forces and bring military expenditures closer to the NATO target of two per cent of the GDP by 2030. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated: “We are stepping up once again, to preserve and defend the rules-based order that has allowed people around the world to prosper.” Currently, the country’s military spending stands at 1.4 per cent of GDP and is set to increase to 1.76 per cent by 2030. The US, for the past few years, has been urging Canada to increase its defence spending. The US Ambassador to Canada, David Cohen, stated that the new defence policy “appears to articulate a substantial down payment toward Canada's pledge to meet its NATO commitment.”

The US: 30 Democrats call on Biden to stop arms supply to Israel
On 5 April, 30 Democrats in the US House of Representatives signed a letter to US President Joe Biden, calling for a full halt to the transfer of weapons to Israel. The letter, which was additionally signed by former speaker and Biden ally, Nancy Pelosi, read: “In light of the recent strike against aid workers and the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis, we believe it is unjustifiable to approve these weapons transfers.” After the death toll in Gaza surpassed 33,000, there has been increasing pressure on the White House to stop supplying arms to Israel. A recent warning from the Biden administration led to Israel agreeing to open the Beit Hanoon crossing with north Gaza for aid. However, the lawmakers said that while they “appreciate” the “administration’s recent efforts to increase the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gaza, these efforts will not be sufficient to meet the extraordinary need on the ground.” The letter additionally urged the administration to investigate the Israeli attack on the World Central Kitchen workers. 

About the authors
Akriti Sharma and Rohini Reenum are PhD Scholars at NIAS. Padmashree Anandhan and Anu Maria Joseph are Research Associates at NIAS. Femy Francis, Dhriti Mukherjee, Akhil Ajith and Shamini Velayutham are Research Assistants at NIAS. Navinan GV is a Postgraduate Student at the University of Madras.

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