Israel, Palestinians accuse each other of ‘genocide’ at UN

Published December 5, 2023
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on Dec 4, 2023. — Reuters
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on Dec 4, 2023. — Reuters

GENEVA: Israeli and Palestinian representatives at the United Nations on Monday traded accusations of “genocide” over the unrest raging in Gaza, with both sides demanding an international response.

Israeli aggression against Palestinians was repeatedly mentioned during an event at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) representative, Dima Asfour, insisted to the council that the “man-made catastrophe” resulting from Israel’s massive bombing campaign and ground offensive was “a textbook case of genocide”.

Meanwhile, Yeela Cytrin, a legal adviser at the Israeli mission in Geneva, said that the raid by Hamas on Oct 7 was motivated by a “genocidal ideology”. The genocide convention, signed on Dec 9, 1948, was the first human rights treaty in the history of the UN, adopted even before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

PA envoy denounces campaign to suppress voices on digital platforms

It was adopted after World War II, highlighting the horrors of the Holocaust and emphasising humanity’s obligation to prevent and punish all such genocidal acts.

‘Shadow-banning’

Asfour stressed that under the genocide convention, “early warning to genocide must compel us to act”.

She told the council, “for the past eight weeks, and after issuing genocidal calls publicly, Israel proceeded to drop tonnes of explosives on Gaza, which have huge destructive power”.

She echoed a group of independent UN experts who last month voiced concern at “the failure of the international system to mobilise to prevent genocide”.

And she denounced “a wide campaign of digital repression, including disinformation, censorship, online harassment and shadow-banning” aimed as suppressing Palestinian voices.

“We urge tech companies and social media platforms to immediately take strict measures to protect their users from harm in light of the genocide unfolding in Palestine,” she said.

While, Cytin said that Jewish people are still feeling of anti-Semitism after 75 years. “Have we learnt anything in the past 75 years?”, she questioned. Iran’s representative meanwhile said it was Israel which was carrying out a “horrifying genocide” against Palestinians, while other Muslim countries accused Israeli officials of “incitement” to genocide.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023

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