GENEVA: The UN expert who concluded Israel was committing acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip received broad support at the United Nations on Tuesday, with countries speaking up to back her and her report.

Francesca Albanese, the special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told the UN Human Rights Council that countries should impose an arms embargo and sanctions on Israel.

Expanding in person on her report released on Monday, Albanese said Israel was characterising the entire Gazan population as “targetable, killable and destroyable”, and had ostentatiously laid bare its “genocidal intent” to “rid Palestine of Palestinians”.

Dozens of diplomats, mostly representing Arab and Muslim countries but also Latin America, took the floor to defend her mandate and her work. Egypt, speaking for Arab group countries, affirmed their support for her mandate and said they were gravely concerned about Israel’s “structured and systematic attack to make the Gaza Strip uninhabitable”.

And Qatar, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, thanked Albanese for her report and demanded the international community “put an end to genocide being perpetrated by the Israeli war machinery”.

In her speech, Albanese told the top UN rights body that Israel had “destroyed Gaza”.

“When genocidal intent is so conspicuous, so ostentatious, as it is in Gaza, we cannot avert our eyes: we must confront genocide, we must prevent it and we must punish it,” she said.

“The genocide in Gaza is the most extreme stage of a long-standing settler-colonial process of erasure of the native Palestinians.” Special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council but they do not speak on behalf of the UN.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2024

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