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25 Mar, 2024 21:22

UN envoy accuses Israel of ‘genocide’ in Gaza

West Jerusalem has denounced Francesca Albanese’s report as outrageous
UN envoy accuses Israel of ‘genocide’ in Gaza

Israeli actions in Gaza qualify as genocide on at least three grounds, according to a report by Francesca Albanese, the UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur, that was leaked to the public on Monday.

Albanese was due to present her report to the council on Tuesday. The pro-Israeli group UN Watch obtained an advance copy of the document and posted it online, accusing her of anti-Semitism.

“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 wrote in the report, titled ‘Anatomy of a Genocide’.

She argued that Israel has “destroyed Gaza” over the past five months, killing over 30,000 Palestinians, destroying 70% of residential areas and displacing 80% of the enclave’s residents.

There are “reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met,” said the report. It accused Israel of violating three criteria of the Genocide Convention: Killing members of a community, inflicting “serious mental or bodily harm” to the group, and “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

As proof of Israeli intent, Albanese quoted “vitriolic genocidal rhetoric” coming from Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari, Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter, Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu, and Likud MK Revital Gottlieb, as well as others.

The Israeli diplomatic mission in Geneva denounced the report as “outrageous” and “simply an extension of a campaign seeking to undermine the very establishment of the Jewish State.”

“Israel’s war is against Hamas, not against Palestinian civilians,” the mission told AFP in a statement.

According to Albanese, the Israeli military has treated all of Gaza as either terrorist or terrorist-supporting, meaning that “no Palestinian in Gaza is safe by definition.” She also framed the events of the past five months as an “escalatory stage of a longstanding settler colonial process of erasure,” defining genocide as integral to the ideology and practice of settler colonialism.

Acting on a petition by South Africa, the International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to do everything it can to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza. Albanese’s report could have legal implications for the case.

The Gaza-based Hamas raided the surrounding Israeli outposts and towns on October 7 last year, killing an estimated 1,200 Israelis and taking another 250 captive. Netanyahu responded by declaring war on the Palestinian group.

The UN Human Rights Council appointed Albanese as the “special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” in March 2022.