It is with great urgency that we, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organisations, address this letter to the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu and the Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, George Okoth-Obbo, with regards to Israel’s actions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including and especially in the Gaza Strip. We alarmingly take note of the statement of Ms Nderitu issued on 15 October 2023, as further elaborated below, which has not alerted the international community to the risk of genocide against the Palestinian people. We urge you to take all measures at your disposal, as required by your mandate, to prevent the unfolding genocide in Gaza, including by mobilising the international community, particularly Third States, to uphold their legal obligations and urgently intervene for this end.
… we are also deeply alarmed by the analysis, approach and rhetoric expressed in the sole statement you issued on 15 October 2023, Ms Nderitu. Failing to contextualise seventy-five years of oppression and domination by the State of Israel over the Palestinian people as a whole, the statement exclusively placed the onus of condemnation on Palestinian armed groups. Excluding any condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza—despite the fact that at the time the Israeli senior leadership had already made several statements inciting genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza and that at least 2,000 Palestinians had already been killed as of 15 October 2023—reveals two truths: first, that the international political double-standards penetrated the UN system inadvertently; second, that the UN and your mandate remain oblivious to the root causes of the Palestinian struggle: decades of Israel’s settler-colonialism, apartheid, and occupation. This, in combination with the failure to acknowledge Israel’s sixteen-year blockade and closure of Gaza—an illegal form of collective punishment, an act of persecution and apartheid, and a potential act of genocide— signifies that your statement utterly failed to properly contextualise the operation that took place on 7 October 2023.
We would also like to remind both your respective mandates Ms Nderitu and Mr Okoth-Obbo, that in July 2014, your predecessors issued a public warning in response to Israel’s conduct against the protected Palestinian population which was accompanied by inciteful and dehumanising language against them. We are deeply alarmed that at this point, with stronger evidence and a significantly more desperate and severe humanitarian situation in terms of human suffering than in 2014, you have not issued a single statement publicly condemning Israel’s genocidal rhetoric, along with the continued infliction of atrocities on the Palestinian population of Gaza.
we call on your respective mandates, as Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Ms Nderitu and Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, Mr Okoth-Obbo, to:
- 1. Acknowledge and publicly recognise that Israel’s conduct in the Gaza Strip is tantamount to an unfolding genocide; condemn the genocidal rhetoric of Israeli officials, which has increased in the past weeks, and remind the international community of the danger such rhetoric carries;
- 2. Condemn the accompanying atrocities committed by Israel in Gaza and the resulting massive loss of civilian life and destruction of civilian infrastructure;
- 3. Call on Third States to act in line with their obligations under the Genocide Convention, in the face of a serious risk that Israeli occupying forces are perpetrating genocidal conduct against Palestinians in Gaza, by unilaterally and collectively taking all feasible action to urgently and definitively ensure that Israel refrains from further incitement to genocide and from the perpetration of conduct prohibited under Article II of the Convention;
- 4. Call upon the competent organs of the UN (including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the International Court of Justice) to take the necessary action under the UN Charter to prevent and suppress acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III of the Convention;
- 5. Call on Third States to investigate, arrest and prosecute persons on their territory or nationals who may have committed or contributed to acts of genocide against the Palestinian people; and
- 6. Call upon States to take all available measures to avoid complicity in Israeli conduct through the provision of materials, arms, economic and diplomatic support to a regime responsible for ongoing and persistent widespread and systematic violence and abuse of the Palestinian population amounting to genocide.