U.N. expert says Israel has committed genocide in Gaza, calls for arms embargo

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 9:03 AM

By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) -A United Nations expert told the global body’s Human Rights Council on Tuesday that she believed that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza since Oct. 7 amounted to genocide and called on countries to immediately impose sanctions and an arms embargo.

Israel, which did not attend the session, rejected her findings.

“It is my solemn duty to report on the worst of what humanity is capable of and to present my findings,” Francesca Albanese, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, told the U.N. rights body in Geneva, presenting a report called “The Anatomy of a Genocide”.

“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,” she said, citing more than 30,000 Palestinians killed among other acts.

“I implore member states to abide by their obligations, which start with imposing an arms embargo and sanctions on Israel and so ensure that the future does not continue to repeat itself,” she said, prompting a burst of applause.

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said the war was against Islamist group Hamas and not Palestinian civilians. It was triggered when Hamas fighters stormed into southern Israel, killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages, by Israeli tallies.

“Instead of seeking the truth, this Special Rapporteur tries to fit weak arguments to her distorted and obscene inversion of reality,” it said.

Albanese is one of dozens of independent human rights experts mandated by the United Nations to report and advise on specific themes and crises. Her views do not reflect those of the global body as a whole.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Alex Richardson)