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16 Nov 2023

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

OPT/Israel: UN experts call on international community, including businesses, to prevent genocide against the Palestinian people

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"Gaza: UN experts call on international community to prevent genocide against the Palestinian people", 16 November 2023

Grave violations committed by Israel against Palestinians in the aftermath of 7 October, particularly in Gaza, point to a genocide in the making, UN experts said today. They illustrated evidence of increasing genocidal incitement, overt intent to “destroy the Palestinian people under occupation”, loud calls for a ‘second Nakba’ in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, and the use of powerful weaponry with inherently indiscriminate impacts, resulting in a colossal death toll and destruction of life-sustaining infrastructure.

They noted that half of the civilian infrastructure in Gaza has been destroyed, including more than 40,000 housing units, as well as hospitals, schools, mosques, bakeries, water pipes, sewage and electricity networks, in a way that threatens to make the continuation of Palestinian life in Gaza impossible.

“Such egregious violations cannot be justified in the name of self-defense after attacks by Hamas on 7 October, which we have condemned in the strongest possible terms,” the experts said.

..."The presence of underground tunnels in parts of Gaza does not eliminate the civilian status of individuals and infrastructure that cannot be directly targeted nor suffer disproportionately,” they said.

The experts also raised the alarm about the escalation of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, by soldiers and armed settlers.

They also expressed alarm over discernibly genocidal and dehumanising rhetoric coming from senior Israeli government officials, as well as some professional groups and public figures, calling for the “total destruction”, and “erasure” of Gaza, the need to “finish them all” and force Palestinians from the West Bank and east Jerusalem into Jordan. The experts warned that Israel has demonstrated it has the military capacity to implement such criminal intentions.

“The international community has an obligation to prevent atrocity crimes, including genocide, and should immediately consider all diplomatic, political and economic measures to that end,” the experts said. They urged immediate action by UN Member States and the UN system as a whole.

In the short-term, the experts reiterated their call to Israel and Hamas to implement an immediate ceasefire, and:

  1. Allow unimpeded delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza;
  2. Ensure the unconditional, safe and secure release of the hostages taken by Hamas;
  3. Ensure that Palestinians arbitrarily detained by Israel are released immediately;
  4. Open humanitarian corridors toward the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Israel, especially for those that have been most affected by this war, the sick, persons with disabilities, older persons, pregnant women and children;

They also recommended:

  1. The deployment of an international protective presence in the occupied Palestinian territory under the supervision of the UN;
  2. Collaboration of all parties with the Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on the investigation opened in March 2021, as well as crimes arising from the recent events, underlining that the crimes committed today are partly due to a lack of deterrence and continued impunity;
  3. Implement an arms embargo on all warring parties;
  4. Address the underlying causes of the conflict by ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory.

“The international community, including not only States but also non-State actors such as businesses, must do everything it can to immediately end the risk of genocide against the Palestinian people, and ultimately end Israeli apartheid and occupation of the Palestinian territory,” the experts said.