UN rapporteur decries genocide in Gaza, calls for arms embargo on Israel

Ahram Online , Tuesday 26 Mar 2024

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese, will deliver a report on Tuesday, to the UN Human Rights Council, saying that Israel has carried out acts of genocide in Gaza, and warning of "ethnic cleansing."

Francesca Albanese
File Photo: Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur. Screenshot from UN TV.


The report recommends that UN members “immediately implement an arms embargo and sanctions on Israel."

The UN human rights expert said in her report there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that Israel was carrying out three of the five acts defined as genocide: killing Palestinians, causing them serious bodily or mental harm, and “deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction” of the population in whole or in part.

"By analyzing the patterns of violence and Israel’s policies in its onslaught on Gaza, this report concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met."

"One of the key findings is that Israel's executive and military leadership and soldiers have intentionally distorted jus in bello principles, subverting their protective functions, in an attempt to legitimize genocidal violence against the Palestinian people," said the report, which has been seen by Ahram Online.

“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,” Albanese’s report said.

The report stated that the Israeli war on Gaza was not the first Israeli genocide, “Practices leading to the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestine’s non-Jewish population occurred in 1947–1949, and again in 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip with mass displacement of hundreds of thousands, killings, destruction of villages and towns, looting and the denial of the right to return of expelled Palestinians.”

"Vitriolic genocidal rhetoric has painted the whole population as the enemy to be eliminated and forcibly displaced. High-ranking Israeli officials with command authority have issued harrowing public statements evincing genocidal intent", she added in the report enumerating several examples as when Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to Palestinians as “Amalek” and “monsters.”

The Amalek reference is to a biblical passage in which God commands Saul “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

Israel's Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant referred to Palestinians as “human animals,” and IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated that the focus should be on causing "maximum damage, demonstrating a strategy of disproportionate and indiscriminate violence."

"Such calls for annihilatory violence directed at troops on duty, constitute strong evidence of direct and public incitement to commit genocide," the report explains, adding that "Decades of discourse dehumanizing Palestinians have prepared the groundwork for such incitements."

"There is cogent evidence that these statements have been internalized and acted upon by troops on the ground. Israeli soldiers have, including on social media channels run by the Israeli military, referred to Palestinians as 'terrorists', 'roaches', 'rats, and have repeated terms articulated by political leaders, chanting that 'there are no ‘uninvolved civilians,' while also calling for the building of settlements in Gaza, 'occupy[ing] Gaza... wip[ing] off the seed of Amalek', boasting about killing families, mothers, and children', humiliating detained Palestinians, detonating dozens of homes, destroying entire residential neighbourhoods, and desecrating cemeteries and places of worship," the report detailed.

Israel’s Prime Minister and President have stated that Israel was fighting on behalf of “all civilized states and... peoples”, “a barbarism that has no place in the modern world,” that they "will uproot evil and it will be good for the entire region and the world.” 

"This racist rhetoric echoes that of other colonial powers, and tries to construe Israel’s genocidal violence as legitimate in light of Palestinians’ alleged 'barbarian' and 'premodern' character."

In December 2023, South Africa filed a case with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Israel of committing "acts of genocide" against Palestinians in Gaza.

After hearings in January, the ICJ issued a binding ruling requiring Israel to implement provisional measures to uphold the Genocide Convention and prevent acts within its scope.

As such, Israel was instructed to exercise military restraint, prevent and punish incitement to genocide and provide urgent humanitarian assistance, to prevent further harm to Palestinians.

The ICJ also ordered Israel to preserve evidence of genocide and to submit a report to the court within a month, regarding its compliance with the order.

Israel's submission in late February remains confidential as is standard with ICJ procedure.

Nevertheless, subsequent reports from various UN and international aid, humanitarian, and human rights agencies suggest Israel has not complied with the prescribed measures to prevent genocide.

The report though recommends implementing an immediate arms embargo on Israel due to its failure to comply with  the ICJ's binding measures, as well as other necessary economic and political measures to ensure an immediate and lasting ceasefire and restore respect for international law, including sanctions."

It also calls for support from South Africa in resorting to the UNSC following Israel’s non-compliance with the ICJ measures.

As a short-term and temporary measure, it suggests "the deployment of an international protective presence to restrain the violence routinely used against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory," and "ensure proper funding for UNRWA to enable it to meet the increased needs of Palestinians in Gaza."

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