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‘Reasonable grounds’ to believe Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, UN rights expert says

There are “reasonable grounds” to believe Israel is “committing the crime of genocide against the Palestinians as a group in Gaza,” the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories has said.

Francesca Albanese made the remarks Wednesday following the submission of her latest report called “Anatomy of a Genocide” to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference, Albanese said: “Israel has committed three acts of genocide with a requisite intent: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Israel said it “utterly rejects” the report, which it said “brings shame” on the Human Rights Council.

It is “no surprise, that the premise of this report is that the creation of the Jewish State in 1948 was an act of ‘settler colonialism,’ and genocide is an ‘inherent part’ of that act,” the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva said in a statement on X on Monday.

The statement also blamed the UN expert for “delegitimising the very creation and existence of the State of Israel.”

Albanese said there had been “flagrant and systematic slaughter of Palestinian civilians,” as well as “the deployment of unlawful weaponry, the utter obliteration of vital civilian infrastructure including the deliberate targeting of all Gaza’s hospitals, and the man-made starvation of the Palestinian people.”

Smoke billows in the vicinity of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on March 23, 2024, following an Israeli bombardment. - AFP/Getty Images/File
Smoke billows in the vicinity of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on March 23, 2024, following an Israeli bombardment. - AFP/Getty Images/File

“The monstrosity unfolding is accompanied by a pervasive anti-Palestinian narrative and dehumanization emanating from the uppermost tiers of Israeli society, including high-ranking officials with command authority and frequently reflected in soldiers’ actions on the ground,” Albanese told the press conference, before adding that this reflected intent “to destroy in whole or in part, which is what distinguishes genocide from other atrocity crimes.”

The UN special rapporteur concluded the “only reasonable inference that can be drawn” is an “Israeli state policy of genocidal violence toward the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

She said one of the report’s “key findings” was 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.”

“Jus in bello” (justice in war) is the Latin term that refers to international laws that govern the way warfare is conducted.

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva in its response also said, “the very attempt to level the charge of genocide against Israel is an outrageous distortion of the Genocide Convention.”

“Israel’s war is against Hamas, not against Palestinian civilians,” it added.

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