International Expert on Human Rights Charges Genocide Against Israel in Gaza Conflict

An expert on human rights from the United Nations has expressed her belief that Israel has engaged in actions that can be characterized as genocide in Gaza.

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, delivered her report to UN member states in Geneva on Tuesday.

However, Israel has already rejected her findings.

This comes as the international community increases pressure on Israel to halt the conflict or take stronger measures to safeguard civilians.

Ms Albanese has stated that there is evidence suggesting the possibility of a crime of genocide being committed against Palestinians as a group in Gaza.

Even before Ms Albanese had a chance to speak, Israel quickly dismissed her findings, with their ambassador calling it a “distortion of the Genocide Convention” in an outrage.

Israel has long been frustrated with the UN Human Rights Council’s agenda, which consistently focuses on the situation in “Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories” through a dedicated section called Item 7.

The agenda item was approved by the UN member states, not directly by the UN, several decades ago, and it has remained valid ever since. Israel perceives the constant scrutiny it faces as discriminatory and an attempt to delegitimize the country, a level of scrutiny not experienced by any other nation. It declines to participate in the council during discussions about Item 7.

However, numerous countries, especially those in the Middle East, assert that the current situation necessitates further investigation due to the lack of self-determination for Palestinians through a two-state solution. This is particularly relevant now, given the occurrence of another conflict.

Following the violent incident initiated by Hamas on 7 October, Ms Albanese has consistently advocated for the liberation of the hostages, a stance reiterated in this report. She strongly denounces the crimes perpetrated by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Israel on 7 October.

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However, she has also been vocal in her disapproval of Israel’s actions during the conflict in Gaza.

‘Anatomy of a Genocide’ is a thought-provoking piece that delves into the complexities and horrors of mass violence. It offers a deep analysis of the factors that contribute to the perpetration of genocide, shedding light on the dark corners of human history. The book presents a sobering account of the atrocities committed during these tragic events, serving as a
That’s why her report has been eagerly anticipated, yet also met with some apprehension.

Ms Albanese’s selection of a title for it, ‘Anatomy of a Genocide,’ could be seen as lacking diplomacy. Several member states, particularly those with a history of supporting Israel, may feel uneasy.

However, UN special rapporteurs, although assigned by the UN to analyze and provide guidance on particular situations, maintain their independence from it.

Genocide is a specific legal term, and according to Ms Albanese’s report, it appears that some of the legal criteria have been met.

She highlights what she believes is Israel’s alleged intention to eliminate Palestinians as a collective, which aligns with a significant provision in the Convention against Genocide.

She highlights three specific factors that indicate a potential genocide:

  • Eliminating individuals from the group
  • Inflicting significant physical or psychological damage on individuals within the group
  • Intentionally subjecting the group to circumstances that are intended to cause its complete or partial physical annihilation

The reported death toll in Gaza has reached a staggering number, with the bombing of densely populated areas and the severe restrictions on aid supplies exacerbating the situation. These actions are seen as evidence of a deliberate effort to undermine the group.

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Warm Palestinian Reception

Basel Alsourani, from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, expressed his appreciation for the report. The speaker pointed out that various parties involved in the conflict had violated international law. However, they emphasized the gravity of genocide as a crime that cannot be overlooked by the international community.

“Permitting genocide to occur has far-reaching consequences, impacting not only Palestinians but also all individuals across the globe,” he expressed.

“If Israel continues to act without accountability, it sets a dangerous precedent for other countries to potentially do the same.”

Tala Nasir, a Palestinian human rights lawyer who also traveled to Geneva to hear the report, expressed hope that it would bring greater awareness to the situation of numerous individuals who have been detained by Israel since 7 October.

“They have apprehended over 7,700 Palestinians,” she stated.

“The majority of individuals are currently being held under administrative detention, without any charges being presented against them.”

She emphasized that their families had no way of reaching them and were completely unaware of their whereabouts.

Israel’s frustration

Unsurprisingly, Israeli diplomats are filled with anger. The report was strongly criticized by Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar. She characterized it as a distortion of reality and accused Ms. Albanese of undermining Israel’s right to exist.

It is probable that many Israelis will also be taken aback. The mention of genocide, directed towards a state that was established due to Nazi Germany’s genocide of Jews, will undoubtedly be highly offensive.

Following the 7 October attack, it is difficult to hear such strong criticism, especially when there are still Israeli families anxiously awaiting updates on their loved ones who have been taken hostage.

Noam Peri, whose father Chaim was taken hostage, also made the journey to Geneva. Her main concern, naturally, is to ensure that her father’s memory lives on.

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“My father was taken from his own home,” she said.

“He’s an elderly individual who was peacefully at home with my mother when he was forcefully taken away, and his whereabouts have been unknown ever since. He lacks any form of communication with anyone in the world.

However, the recent vote for an immediate ceasefire at the UN Security Council indicates that member states are becoming increasingly frustrated with Israel’s handling of the conflict.

Multiple reputable UN aid agencies have issued warnings about the dire situation in Gaza. They have highlighted the lack of safety in the region and the desperate measures families are resorting to, such as consuming animal feed or grass. Additionally, there are distressing reports of children undergoing amputations without the use of anaesthetic.

Many sources are reporting that Israel is allegedly limiting crucial aid supplies, leading to growing skepticism among governments regarding Israel’s assertion that the UN is responsible for the delays.

Francesca Albanese’s report is likely to generate strong reactions, potentially increasing the pressure on Israel to reconsider its strategy.

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