United Nations (UN) experts called on Thursday for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying time is running out for the Palestinian people who are at “grave risk of genocide.”
Nearly four weeks of Israeli bombings against the Gaza Strip have killed more than 9,000 people, most of them women and children, according to health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave. Israel says it is targeting its attacks against the militant group, not civilians, and accuses the organization of using them as shields.
“We remain convinced that the Palestinian people are at serious risk of genocide,” the expert group, made up of seven UN special rapporteurs, said in a statement.
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“We demand a humanitarian ceasefire to ensure aid reaches those who need it most.”
The Israeli mission to the UN in Geneva said it was preparing a response to the experts’ statements.
The International Criminal Court defines the crime of genocide as the specific intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, by killing its members or by other means, including the imposition of measures designed to prevent births or the forced transfer of children from one group to another.
On October 28, outgoing senior UN human rights official Craig Mokhiber wrote to High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, saying that “we are seeing a genocide unfold before our eyes, and the Organization is which we serve seems powerless to stop it.”
The UN human rights agency said Mokhiber’s planned retirement took effect this week and that his views were “personal” and did not reflect those of the UN.
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Aid supplies to Gaza have been stifled since Israel began bombing the densely populated enclave, with aid organizations saying they are no closer to meeting the needs of the local population.
“The situation in Gaza has reached a catastrophic tipping point,” the UN experts said, adding that Gazans have been left with shortages of water, medicine, fuel and essential supplies, as well as facing health risks.
The experts also pointed to Israel’s allies, who they said “bear responsibility and must act now to prevent its disastrous course of action.”
“We call on Israel and its allies to agree to an immediate ceasefire,” the UN experts said. “We’re running out of time.”
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