UN rights expert says Israel committing genocide in Gaza

A UN human rights expert has accused Israel of committing acts of genocide in the besieged Palestinian enclave of Gaza.  

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, told member states in Geneva that Israel has violated three of the five acts constituting genocide under the UN Genocide Convention through its actions in occupied Palestinian territories.

The report comes amid growing international pressure on Israel. On Monday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with even Israel’s main backers, the US, not blocking the motion.

“The context, facts and analysis presented in this report lead to the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met,” Albanese says in her report “Anatomy of a Genocide’.

“The overwhelming nature and scale of Israel’s assault on Gaza and the destructive conditions of life it has inflicted reveal an intent to physically destroy Palestinians as a group.”

She adds: “Genocidal acts were approved and given effect following statements of genocidal intent issued by senior military and government officials.”

Albanese notes that after five months of military operations, “Israel has destroyed Gaza,” killing over 30,000 Palestinians, including more than 13,000 children. Over 12,000 are presumed dead, and 71,000 injured, many with life-changing mutilations. 

She says in her summary that 70% of residential areas have been destroyed and 80% of the whole population has been forcibly displaced.

“Thousands of families have lost loved ones or have been wiped out. Many could not bury and mourn their relatives, forced instead to leave their bodies decomposing in homes, in the street or under the rubble. Thousands have been detained and systematically subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. The incalculable collective trauma will be experienced for generations to come,” she adds. 

Her findings were immediately dismissed by Israel, with its ambassador describing it as “an outrageous distortion of the Genocide Convention.”

Three acts of genocide

Albanese accuses Israel of committing three acts of genocide:

  • Killing members of the group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part

In the report, she says Israel’s “genocide of Palestinians” in Gaza is an escalatory stage of a “long-standing settler colonial process of erasure”.

“For over seven decades this process has suffocated the Palestinian people as a group – demographically, culturally, economically and politically –, seeking to displace it and expropriate and control its land and resources,” she adds. 

“The ongoing Nakba must be stopped and remedied once and for all. This is an imperative owed to the victims of this highly preventable tragedy, and to future generations in that land. “

“Colonial amnesia of the West”

Speaking about her report at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Albanese declared that “colonial amnesia of the West has condoned Israel’s colonial settler project.” She added that “the world now sees the bitter fruit of the impunity afforded to Israel. This was a tragedy foretold.”

She said denial of the reality and the continuation of Israel’s impunity and exceptionalism is no longer viable, especially in light of the binding UN Security Council resolution, 

“I implore Member States to abide by their obligations which start with imposing an arms embargo and sanctions on Israel, and so ensure that the future does not continue to repeat itself,” she concluded. 

When asked if her work on the report had subjected her to threats, Albanese said: “Yes, I do receive threats. Nothing that so far I considered needing extra precautions. Pressure? Yes, and it doesn’t change either my commitment or the results of my work.”

Photo credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe


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