UN expert accuses Israel of several acts of genocide in Gaza

Displaced Palestinian children pose for photos at a camp beside a street in Rafah. Picture: Mohammed Abed/ AFP

Displaced Palestinian children pose for photos at a camp beside a street in Rafah. Picture: Mohammed Abed/ AFP

Published Mar 25, 2024


A UN rights expert on Monday said there were "reasonable grounds" to determine that Israel has committed several acts of "genocide" in its war in Gaza, also evoking "ethnic cleansing".

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in the Palestinian territories, said there were clear indications that Israel had violated three of the five acts listed under the international genocide convention.

"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 said in a report, which was immediately rejected by Israel as an "obscene inversion of reality".

Albanese, an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations, said she had found "reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of... acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza has been met".

The report, entitled "Anatomy of a Genocide", listed those acts as: "killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to the group's members; and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part".

Israel's diplomatic mission in Geneva said the country "utterly rejects the report", describing it as "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," it said in a statement.

The Gaza war broke out with Hamas's attack of October 7 that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Monday put the total Palestinian death toll at 32,333, most of them women and children.

In Albanese's report, which she is due to present to the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, she maintained that Israel's "genocidal acts" followed "statements of genocidal intent".

She said that statements by some senior Israelis declaring an intent to forcibly displace Palestinians and replace them with Israeli settlers meant that "evacuation orders and safe zones have been used as genocidal tools to achieve ethnic cleansing".

The report also found that Israel was treating all Palestinians and their infrastructure "as 'terrorist' or 'terrorist-supporting', thus transforming everything and everyone into either a target or collateral damage".

Agence France-Presse