To: The UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
Following Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in summer 2014, and following the findings of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP), I strongly demand that you conduct an urgent enquiry into the possibility that Israel is committing the crime of genocide.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com) is an International People’s Tribunal created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East, in the spirit of the International War Crimes Tribunal initiated by Lord Bertrand Russell and constituted in 1966 to investigate crimes committed in Vietnam and judge them according to international law.
The RToP sat in special session in September 2014 and heard testimony from witnesses to the onslaught on Gaza. Amongst its findings, published in full here (http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Summary-of-Findings.pdf), is this finding on the subject of genocide:
“28. The evidence received by the Tribunal demonstrates that the state of Israel is failing to respect its obligations to prevent and to punish the crime of direct and public incitement to genocide.”
According to the 1948 Genocide Convention, individuals who attempt or who incite to genocide ‘shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals’. The evidence submitted to the RToP points overwhelmingly in this direction and it is imperative that the UN to hold its own enquiry and, if coming to the same findings, to hold the state of Israel to account. Failure to do so is a betrayal of the principles on which the UN was originally founded.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine convened an emergency session in Brussels last month to examine whether Israel committed war crimes in the besieged Gaza Strip during “Operation Protective Edge,” the summertime military assault that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, and left Gaza in ruins.
After hearing testimony from journalists, eyewitnesses, legal scholars and physicians present during the onslaught, the twelve-member jury, made up of world-renowned intellectuals and international law experts, found Israel guilty of “war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide…”
Taken together, the testimonies presented at the Russell Tribunal (all of which can be viewed here) demonstrate a clear pattern of intentional destruction of Gaza and its people by an increasingly extreme settler-colonial state “primed for genocide,” as Max Blumenthal put it.
Genocide does not happen overnight or in a vacuum. There are warning signs, many of which were raised at the Russell Tribunal.