Anatomy of a Genocide

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Francesca Albanese, 25/02/24


After five months of military operations, Israel has destroyed Gaza. Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 13,000 children. Over 12,000 are presumed dead and 71,000 injured, many with life-changing mutilations. Seventy percent of residential areas have been destroyed. Eighty percent of the whole population has been forcibly displaced.Thousands of families have lost loved ones or have been wiped out. Many could not bury and mourn their relatives, forced instead to leave their bodies decomposing in homes, in the street or under the rubble. Thousands have been detained and systematically subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. The incalculable collective trauma will be experienced for generations to come.

By analysing the patterns of violence and Israel’s policies in its onslaught on Gaza, this report concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met. 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.

93. The overwhelming nature and scale of Israel’s assault on Gaza and the destructive conditions of life it has inflicted reveal an intent to physically destroy Palestinians as a group. This report finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of the following acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza has been met: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to groups’ members; and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. Genocidal acts were approved and given effect following statements of genocidal intent issued by senior military and government officials.

94. Israel has sought to conceal its eliminationist conduct of hostilities sanctioning the commission of international crimes as IHL-abiding. Distorting IHL customary rules, including distinction, proportionality and precautions, Israel has de facto treated an entire protected group and its life-sustaining infrastructure as ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist-supporting’, thus transforming everything and everyone into either a target or collateral damage, hence killable or destroyable. In this way, no Palestinian in Gaza is safe by definition. This has had devastating, intentional effects, costing the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians, destroying the fabric of life in Gaza and causing irreparable harm to its entire population.

95. Israel’s genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza is an escalatory stage of a longstanding settler colonial process of erasure. For over seven decades this process has suffocated the Palestinian people as a group – demographically, culturally, economically and politically –, seeking to displace it and expropriate and control its land and resources. The ongoing Nakba must be stopped and remedied once and for all. This is an imperative owed to the victims of this highly preventable tragedy, and to future generations in that land.

VIII. Recommendations

96. The Special Rapporteur urges member states to enforce the prohibition of genocide in accordance with their non-derogable obligations.309 Israel and those states that have been complicit in what can be reasonably concluded to constitute genocide must be held accountable and deliver reparations commensurate with the destruction, death and harm inflicted on the Palestinian people.

97. The Special Rapporteur recommends that member states:

(a) 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, as well as other economic and political measures necessary to ensure an immediate and lasting ceasefire and to restore respect for international law, including sanctions;

(b) Support South Africa having resort to the UNSC under article 94(2) of the UN Charter following Israel’s non-compliance with the above-mentioned ICJ

(c) Act to ensure a thorough, independent and transparent investigation of all violations of international law committed by all actors, including those amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide, including:

(i) cooperating with international independent fact-finding/ investigative and accountability mechanisms;

(ii) referring the situation in Palestine to the ICC immediately, in support of its ongoing investigation;

(iii) discharging their obligations under the principles of universal jurisdiction, ensuring genuine investigations and prosecutions of individuals who are suspected of having committed, or aided or abetted, in the commission of international crimes, including genocide, starting with their own nationals;

(d) Ensure that Israel, as well as States who have been complicit in the Gaza genocide, acknowledge the colossal harm done, commit to non-repetition, with measures for prevention, full reparations, including the full cost of the reconstruction of Gaza, for which the establishment of a register of damage with an accompanying verification and mass claims process is recommended;

(e) Within the General Assembly, develop a plan to end the unlawful and unsustainable status quo constituting the root cause of the latest escalation, which ultimately culminated in the Gaza genocide, including through the reconstitution of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid to comprehensively address the situation in Palestine, and stand ready to implement diplomatic, economic and political measures provided under the United Nations Charter in case of non-compliance by Israel;

(f) In the short term and as a temporary measure, in consultation with the State of Palestine, deploy an international protective presence to constrain the violence routinely used against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory;

(g) Ensure that UNRWA is properly funded to enable it to meet the increased needs of Palestinians in Gaza.

98. The Special Rapporteur calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to enhance its efforts to end the current atrocities in Gaza, including by promoting and accurately applying International Law, notably the Genocide Convention, in the context of the oPt as a whole


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