source : www.aljazeera.com
The Palestinian people ‘are at high risk of genocide’, UN special rapporteurs say. ‘Now is the time for action.’
United Nations experts have called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, saying time is running out for the Palestinian people who are “at high risk of genocide.”
Nearly four weeks of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in retaliation for attacks by Hamas gunmen in southern Israel on October 7 have killed more than 9,000 people, the majority of them women and children, according to health authorities.
“We remain convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide,” the group of experts, made up of seven UN special rapporteurs, said in a statement on Thursday. “We demand a humanitarian ceasefire to ensure aid reaches those who need it most.”
The experts also expressed their “deepening disgust” at Israeli airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza since Tuesday evening – attacks that reportedly killed and injured hundreds of Palestinians – calling them a blatant violation of international law.
They said they were concerned about the safety of UN and humanitarian workers, hospitals and schools sheltering the people of Gaza, and about the safety of journalists, media workers and their relatives.
The Israeli mission to the UN in Geneva said it was preparing a response to the experts’ comments.
The International Criminal Court defines the crime of genocide as the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group by killing its members or otherwise, including the imposition of measures intended to prevent births prevent or forcibly transfer children from one group to another.
On October 28, outgoing senior UN human rights official Craig Mokhiber wrote to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk: “We are watching a genocide unfold before our eyes, and the organization we serve seems powerless to stop it.”
The UN rights office said Mokhiber’s planned retirement took effect this week and that his views were “personal” and did not reflect those of the agency.
The supply of aid to Gaza has been stifled since Israel began bombing the densely populated enclave, with aid groups saying it falls far short of meeting the needs of people there.
“The situation in Gaza has reached a catastrophic tipping point,” the UN experts said, adding that Gazans were left with scarce water, medicine, fuel and essential supplies while facing health risks.
They also pointed to Israel’s allies, who they said “bear responsibility and must act now to prevent the disastrous course of action.”
“We call on Israel and its allies to agree to an immediate ceasefire,” the UN experts said. “There’s little time left.”
source : www.aljazeera.com