Draft UN Report Finds Israel Has Met Threshold for Genocide

Dozens of Palestinian bodies wrapped in white sheets are lined up in the street
The bodies of victims of the October 31, 2023 Israeli bombing of the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip are lined up outside the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City. (Photo: Fadi Alwhidi/Anadolu via Getty Images)
“Israel’s genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza is an escalatory stage of a long-standing settler-colonial process of erasure.”

BRETT WILKINS, COMMON DREAMS, MARCH 25, 2024

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday published a draft report that found “reasonable grounds to believe” that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, a move that came on the same day as the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in the ongoing war.

The advance unedited version of the report—entitled Anatomy of a Genocide—concludes that Israel’s far-right government and military “have intentionally distorted jus in bello principles, subverting their protective functions, in an attempt to legitimize genocidal violence against the Palestinian people.”

“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,” the draft report states, enumerating Israeli actions that violate Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: “Killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to group members; and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

“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,” the paper continues. “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.”

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Israel rejected the report as “an obscene inversion of reality.”

According to Palestinian and international humanitarian officials, Israel’s 171-day Gaza onslaught has killed at least 32,333 Palestinians, most of them women and children, while wounding nearly 75,000 others and displacing around 90% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people. Thousands more Palestinians are missing and believed to be dead and buried beneath the rubble of bombed buildings. Disease and deadly starvation caused and exacerbated by Israel’s siege and blockade of Gaza are spreading rapidly.

“Israel’s genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza is an escalatory stage of a long-standing settler-colonial process of erasure,” the draft report asserts. “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.”

Referring to the flight and ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Arabs from Palestine during the foundation of the modern state of Israel in 1948, the paper contends that “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.”

“The ongoing Nakba must be stopped and remedied once and for all.”

The draft report urges U.N. member states to “enforce the prohibition of genocide in accordance with their… obligations” under international law. In January, the U.N.’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Israel was “plausibly” perpetrating genocide in Gaza and ordered the country’s government to “take all measures within its power” to prevent genocidal acts. Human rights defenders say Israel has ignored the order.

“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,” the publication argues.

The draft report recommends measures including:

  • Immediate implementation of an arms embargo on Israel, as it appears to have failed to comply with the binding measures ordered by the ICJ;
  • Immediate referral of the situation in Palestine to the International Criminal Court in support of its ongoing investigation;
  • Ensuring that Israel, as well as states who have been complicit in the Gaza genocide, acknowledge the colossal harm done, commit to nonrepetition, with measures for prevention and full reparations, including the full cost of the reconstruction of Gaza;
  • Deploying an international protective presence to constrain the violence routinely used against Palestinians in the occupied territories; and
  • Ensuring that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is properly funded to enable it to meet the increased needs of Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel on Monday informed the U.N. that it will no longer allow UNRWA convoys carrying food aid into northern Gaza, even as the Palestinians are starving to death, a move that one humanitarian campaigner called a “death sentence.”



Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.


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