Monday, April 15, 2024

UN expert says Israel has committed genocide in Gaza

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GENEVA:

A United Nations expert told the global body’s Human Rights Council on Tuesday that she believed that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza since Oct. 7 amounted to genocide and called on countries to immediately impose sanctions and an arms embargo.

Israel, which did not attend the session, rejected her findings.

“It is my solemn duty to report on the worst of what humanity is capable of and to present my findings,” Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, told the UN rights body in Geneva, presenting a report called “The Anatomy of a Genocide”.

“I find that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of the crime of genocide against Palestinians as a group in Gaza has been met,” she said, citing more than 30,000 Palestinians killed among other acts.

“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 said, prompting a burst of applause.

The 1948 Genocide Convention, enacted in the wake of the mass murder of Jews in the Nazi Holocaust, defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

Read also: Israel guilty of genocide

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said the use of the word genocide was “outrageous” and said the war was against Hamas and not Palestinian civilians. It was triggered when Hamas fighters stormed into southern Israel, killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages, by Israeli tallies.

“Instead of seeking the truth, this Special Rapporteur tries to fit weak arguments to her distorted and obscene inversion of reality,” it said.

Gulf nations such as Qatar, as well as African countries including Algeria and Mauritania, voiced support for Albanese’s findings and alarm at the humanitarian situation.

The seats for Israel’s ally the United States were left empty. Washington has previously accused the council of a chronic anti-Israel bias.

Albanese, an Italian lawyer, is one of dozens of independent human rights experts mandated by the United Nations to report and advise on specific themes and crises. Her views do not reflect those of the global body as a whole.

In the past, her comments on the Israel-Hamas conflict have drawn scrutiny, including from a US ambassador in Geneva who said she has a history of using “antisemitic tropes”.

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