Albanese says threats 'pisses me off but won't step back' exposing Israel's genocide in Gaza

Mohamed Hatem , Thursday 28 Mar 2024

Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the West Bank and Gaza, says that despite receiving threats, she is determined to expose that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza.

United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights Situation in the Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese looks on at a press conference during a session of the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, on March 27, 2024. AFP


This week, Albanese, who is based in Ramallah, presented a damning report entitled "Anatomy of a Genocide" to the UN Human Rights Council.

In the report, the 47-year-old renowned human rights lawyer said there were reasonable grounds to believe Israel was "committing the crime of genocide against the Palestinians as a group in Gaza."

Israel has denounced Albanese for her opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and violence against the Palestinians.

Immediately after it was issued, Israel denounced the report and pro-Israeli groups called for her to step down from her UN position.



Asked about the blowback at a news conference in Geneva, she acknowledged that "it has been a difficult time," according to AFP.

Albanese, an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2022, said she had "been attacked since the very beginning of [her] mandate".

"I do receive threats," she acknowledged, adding that she had nonetheless received nothing that calls for taking extra precautions.

The pressure, she said, "pisses me off, of course it does. But it ... creates even more pressure not to step back," according to AFP.

A seasoned rights advocate

Albanese, an Italian national, holds a law degree from the University of Pisa and a Master of Laws in human rights from SOAS University of London.

She serves as an Affiliate Scholar at Georgetown University, a Senior Adviser at Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), and a Research Fellow at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

With a decade of experience at the UN, she has offered counsel on human rights across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Asia Pacific, including under the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Albanese is also the first woman to hold the position of UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, which include the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and Gaza.

She has published widely on the legal situation in Israel/Palestine.

"Her latest book, Palestinian Refugees in International Law (Oxford University Press, 2020), offers a comprehensive legal analysis of the situation of Palestinian refugees from its origins to modern-day reality," according to the OHCHR.

Albanese has also received support from a long line of countries since releasing her report.

She said that when she one day does decide to leave her post, it would not be because of her critics.

"It won't be because they vilify or they mistreat me in the public discourse."

All about international law

Last month, Israel announced a visa ban on Albanese for saying that she found no evidence that Hamas 7 October attacks in Israel were propelled by "antisemitism" and arguing that the attack was motivated by Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

"I do not question the existence of the State of Israel," Albanese insisted Wednesday, adding, however, that she remains a "part of a movement which wants the end of the apartheid" and for Israel to behave "according to international law."

She stressed that she condemned Hamas for its offensive in early October, only to add later that "nothing justifies what Israel is doing" to Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 32,490 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israel’s siege of Gaza has spurred a humanitarian catastrophe and pushed most of the population to the brink of famine.

In late January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide in its war on the Gaza Strip.

To date, Israel has refused to comply with the ICJ ruling, killing and wounding thousands more Palestinian civilians in the last six weeks.

Israel has also refused to agree to a ceasefire resolution that was adopted by the United Nations Security Council on Monday.

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