A group of UN-mandated human rights experts, including the special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, said on Thursday (Nov. 02) that “time is running out to prevent genocide and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza”, which Israel called Hamas “propaganda”.
“We remain convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide,” the experts said in a joint statement.
“Israel’s allies also bear responsibility and must act now to prevent its disastrous course of action.”
UN special rapporteurs are unpaid, independent figures mandated by the Human Rights Council. They do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to it as part of the council’s fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms.
“The situation in Gaza has reached a catastrophic tipping point,” the experts said, warning of the “dire need” for food, water, medicine, fuel and essential supplies and the risk of looming health hazards.
The statement was signed by Francesca Albanese, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.
The other signatories were the special rapporteurs on safe drinking water; food; physical and mental health; internally displaced persons; freedom of expression; and on contemporary racism.
Israel’s embassy in Geneva said on X, formerly Twitter, that it was “deplorable and deeply concerning” that UN special procedure mechanisms “repeated propaganda” led by Hamas.
It also added the state of Israel “makes every effort to mitigate harm to civilians in Gaza”.
“Instead of endorsing the Hamas narrative, we call on the international community to condemn Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields and to condemn the diversion of humanitarian aid for its terrorist operations,” the embassy said.
The UN experts called for the immediate release of all civilians being held captive since the Hamas attack.
“All parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law,” they said.
“We demand a humanitarian ceasefire to ensure that aid reaches those who need it the most. A ceasefire also means channels of communication can be opened to ensure the release of hostages,” the experts said.
Hundreds of people are estimated to have been killed in Jabalia, Gaza’s largest refugee camp by repeated Israeli airstrikes.
The UN experts voiced “deepening horror” about the strikes, calling them “a brazen violation of international law — and a war crime”.
“Israel and Palestinian armed groups must bear in mind that even wars have rules.”
Israel has heavily bombarded Gaza after Hamas militants carried out an unprecedented attack last month.
Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping at least 240 others, including children, according to Israeli officials.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 9,000 people have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory bombing campaign, mostly women and children.
Th U.N. Security Council is the U.N’s most powerful body, charged with maintaining international peace and security, but dissensions in its midst have left it impotent and scrambling to try to find a resolution with acceptable language.
The U.N. Security Council failed on Wednesday (Oct. 25) to address the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza, rejecting rival United States and Russian resolutions.
The resolution drafted by the United States, Israel’s closest ally, would have reaffirmed what the United States of America have called Israel’s right to self-defense, urged respect for international laws — especially protection of civilians — and advocated “humanitarian pauses” to deliver desperately needed aid to Gaza.
In Wednesday’s vote in the 15-member council, 10 countries including Gabon voted in favor, 3 voted against, and 2 including Mozambique abstained. The resolution was not adopted because permanent council members Russia and China cast vetoes.
The Russian resolution, which was then put to a vote, would have called for an immediate “humanitarian cease-fire” and unequivocally condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel and “indiscriminate attacks” on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza.
In that vote, four countries voted in favor – including Russia and Gabon. Two voted against, and nine countries including Ghana abstained. The resolution wasn’t adopted because it failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes.
On October 27, the United Nations General Assembly where each country has a vote adopted a resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza.
It also demands “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” provision of lifesaving supplies and services for civilians trapped inside the enclave, as news reports suggest Israel has expanded ground operations and intensified its bombing campaign.