“The Anatomy of a Genocide”: The Findings of a UN Special Rapporteur on Gaza

It is genocide, stated Francesca Albanese, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in testimony to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 26. “Following nearly six months of unrelenting Israeli assault on occupied Gaza, it is my solemn duty to report on the worst of what humanity is capable of, and to present my findings.”

“History teaches us that genocide is a process, not a single act”, she said. “It starts with the dehumanization of a group as other, the denial of that group’s humanity, and ends with the destruction of the group in whole, or in part. The dehumanization of Palestinians as a group is the hallmark of their history – of ethnic cleansing, dispossession and apartheid.”

After reviewing facts on the ground, Francesca Albanese continued: “In light of this, 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 has been met. Specifically, Israel has committed three acts of genocide with the requisite intent, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, and imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group. The genocide in Gaza is the most extreme stage of a long-standing settler colonial process of erasure of the native Palestinians…. This was a tragedy foretold.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres has been very vocal in calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Again on April 5, he denounced the “catastrophic hunger” inflicted on Gazans as part of the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people”. He added that he is “deeply troubled” by reports that the Israeli military uses artificial intelligence to target alleged Hamas fighters at home with their families, incurring a large number of civilian casualties.

The targeted killing of seven foreign aid workers of the World Central Kitchen by the Israeli Defense Forces on April 1 caused the protests throughout the world, emphatically including within Israel, to explode. After weeks of protests in Israel by anti-war and human rights movements and by families of the hostages still held by the Hamas, 50,000 people joined the demonstrations on April 7, called to demand the government secure the release of the captives, which took on a marked anti-Netanyahu tone.

Even in the United States Congress, a group of 37 Democratic Congressmen have sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, calling for a stop to the U.S. provision of weapons to Israel until an investigation on the targeting of the WCK convoy is carried out.It is certainly ignoble that they only move when Western lives are at stake, but the effect is nonetheless significant.

So far, there is no indication that the overwhelming isolation of the Netanyahu government internationally – which continues to be supported by Washington and some European capitals – will convince them to end the genocide, but the opposition will continue to grow. The danger is that extending the war to Lebanon and to Iran will lead to a breakaway ally scenario, in which Israel is used to draw the U.S. and possibly NATO, into a wider regional war.

The report by Francesca Albanese can be read here.

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