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UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation in Palestine Francesca Albanese. (Image: Palestine Chronicle, via UN website)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The evidence presented, according to the report, “suggests Israel has committed at least three of the acts proscribed in the Convention.”

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights Situation in the Palestinian territories, said in a report on Monday that there are “reasonable grounds” to determine that Israel has committed several acts of genocide in its ongoing war on Gaza.

“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,” Albanese told the UN rights body in Geneva, presenting a report called ‘The Anatomy of a Genocide’.

“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,” the report read.

Three Acts of Genocide

The evidence presented, according to the report, “suggests Israel has committed at least three of the acts proscribed in the Convention.”

The first violation is allegedly constituted by the act of “killing members of the (Palestinian) group.”

“Since 7 October, Israel has killed over 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza, equivalent to approximately 1.4 percent of its population, through lethal weapons and deliberate imposition of life-threatening conditions,” the report stated, noting that “seventy percent of recorded deaths have consistently been women and children.”

“Moreover, Israel’s heightened blockade of Gaza has caused death by starvation, including 10 children daily, by impeding access to vital supplies.”

The second alleged violation is the act of “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”.

“Since 7 October, Palestinians have suffered relentless physical and psychological harm. Many have endured violence and deprivation including severe hunger,” the report noted.

“Israeli forces have detained thousands of Palestinians, mostly men and young boys, often refusing to disclose their whereabouts. Many of them have been severely mistreated, including through torture at times leading to death.”

The third alleged violation is the act of “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

“The total siege and near-constant carpet-bombing, along with draconian evacuation orders and ever-shifting ‘safe zones’, have created an unparalleled humanitarian catastrophe,” the report noted. 

“Over 1.7 million Palestinians were displaced and forced into overcrowded UNRWA shelters and cramped quarters in southern Gaza, systematically targeted by the Israeli army, and later into makeshift shelters,” it further added.

Genocidal Intent

According to the report, the genocidal intent must be established either through direct or indirect evidence.

Moreover, the genocide, as an “organized crime”, implies “a collective dimension, 139 evidence of a state plan, including through statements and declarations by state officials, is usually decisive in establishing direct intent.”

“In the latest Gaza assault, direct evidence of genocidal intent is uniquely present. Vitriolic genocidal rhetoric has painted the whole population as the enemy to be eliminated and forcibly displaced,” the report stated.

The statement was supported by a series of public statements made by high-ranking Israeli officials, including Israeli President  Isaac Herzog, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Human Shields and the Logic of Genocide

According to the report, “after 7 October, this macro-characterization of Gaza’s civilians as a population of human shields has reached unprecedented levels, with Israel’s top-ranking political and military leaders consistently framing civilians as either Hamas operatives, ‘accomplices’, or human shields among whom Hamas is ‘embedded’.”

“International law does not permit the blanket claim that an opposing force is using the entire population as human shields en bloc,” the report explained, noting that “Israeli authorities have characterized churches, mosques, schools, UN facilities, universities, hospitals and ambulances, as connected with Hamas to reinforce the perception of a population characterized as broadly ‘complicit’ and therefore killable.”

Recommendations

The UN Special Rapporteur urged “member states to enforce the prohibition of genocide in accordance with their non-derogable obligations”.

Therefore it recommended to “immediately implement an arms embargo on Israel, as it appears to have failed to comply with the binding measures ordered by the ICJ on 26 January 2024”.

Albanese also recommended to “ensure that (the UN agency for Palestinian refugees) UNRWA is properly funded to enable it to meet the increased needs of Palestinians in Gaza.”

ICJ Ruling

On January 26, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take measures to prevent and punish direct incitement of genocide in its ongoing war in Gaza.

“The state of Israel shall (..) take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of the genocide convention,” the ICJ said.

An overwhelming majority of the ICJ’s 17-judge panel voted to order urgent measures, which covered most of South Africa’s request, aside from ordering a halt to the Israeli war on Gaza.

The court ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the genocide convention and also ensure that the Israeli army do not commit any genocidal acts in Gaza.

Genocide Continues

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.  

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 32,414 Palestinians have been killed, and 74,787 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children. 

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’ 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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