Independent UN Expert Report on Gaza: Anatomy of a Genocide

An independent UN human rights expert has published the report of her investigation which concludes that Israel has committed acts of genocide in Gaza. 

Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur, is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to follow and report on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. She presented her report to UN Member States in Geneva on Tuesday 26th March 2024.

Here is her full presentation:

Introduction and Definition of Genocide

In the introduction of the report, Ms. Albanese states that Israel prohibited her visits. This means that the investigation and the subsequent report is based on “on data and analyses from organisations on the ground, international jurisprudence, investigative reports and consultations with affected individuals, authorities, civil society and experts.”

The report defines genocide as a legal term based on the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This Convention codifies genocide as an international crime and states that an obligation to prevent and punish genocide binds all states under both the Convention and customary international law. The Conventions also requires all states to prevent and prosecute genocidal acts. The ICJ and the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) have jurisdiction over the crime of genocide, as well as states domestics courts.

Francesca Albanese presenting report to UN Human Rights Commission

Proving Genocidal Intent

While the entire report is worth reading, this post will excerpt and highlight the three ways listed which proves that Israel’s activity in Palestine constitutes genocidal intent. 

  1. “Killing Members of the Group – After five months of military operations, Israel has destroyed Gaza. Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 13,000 children. Over 12,000 more are presumed dead. Israel’s heightened blockade of Gaza has caused death by starvation, including 10 children daily, by impeding access to vital supplies. Lack of hygiene and overcrowded shelters could cause more deaths than bombings, having created “the perfect storm for disease.” A quarter of Gaza’s population could die from preventable health conditions within a year.
Images of deadly al-Ahli Baptist Hospital explosion

2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group – Since 7 October, Palestinians have suffered relentless physical and psychological harm. Israel’s lethal weapons and methods have injured seventy one-thousand Palestinians, many with agonizing injuries, in some cases leading to long-term impairment or death. Many have endured violence and deprivation including severe hunger. Israeli forces have detained thousands of Palestinians, mostly men and young boys, often refusing to disclose their whereabouts. Many of them have been severely mistreated, including through torture at times leading to death.

3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part – This act involves conduct that does not directly kill members of the group, but is capable of leading, through various means, to its physical destruction. These may include starving, dehydrating, forcibly displacing the protected group, destroying objects indispensable for their survival, reducing essential medical services to below the minimum requirement, depriving of housing, clothes, education, employment and hygiene. Israel’s relentless targeting of all means of basic survival has compromised the ability of Palestinians in Gaza to live on that land.”

This picture taken on October 11, 2023 shows an aerial view of buildings destroyed by Israeli air strikes in the Jabalia camp for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City. Israel declared war on Hamas on October 8 following a shock land, air and sea assault by the Gaza-based Islamists. The death toll from the shock cross-border assault by Hamas militants rose to 1,200, making it the deadliest attack in the country's 75-year history, while Gaza officials reported more than 900 people killed as Israel pounded the territory with air strikes. (Photo by Yahya HASSOUNA / AFP)

Reasonable Grounds for Genocide

The report concludes by stating that “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. This report finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of the following acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza has been met: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to groups’ members; and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. Genocidal acts were approved and given effect following statements of genocidal intent issued by senior military and government officials”.


The Special Rapporteur recommends that all member states “enforce the prohibition of genocide in accordance with their non-derogable obligations. 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”.

Answering Questions

As a follow up to the presentation of her report, the Special Rapporteur hosted a question and answer session from journalists around the world. You can watch that below.

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