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Urgent Action: Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Call on Third States to Urgently Intervene to Protect the Palestinian People Against Genocide

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13 October 2023

Date: 13 October 2023

Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) call on Third States to urgently intervene to protect the Palestinian people against genocide. Between Saturday 7 October and 13 October at 10:00 p.m., the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported the killing of at least 1,900 Palestinians and the injury of 7,699 in Gaza. Tonight, Israel has closed bypass roads throughout the West Bank. Since Saturday 7 October violent attacks have escalated across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, with the Israeli military and settlers killing 51 Palestinians, including 16 killed today, and injuring more than 950. The situation has drastically deteriorated, with Israel ordering the evacuation of 1.1 million Palestinians from the densely populated northern Gaza towards the south of the Strip. The forced displacement of Palestinians in Gaza was preceded by genocidal statements by senior Israeli political and military figures in the previous days.

On 9 October 2023, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Minister of Defense, stated: “We are imposing a complete siege on [Gaza]. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel – everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly”. This was followed by the Coordinator of the Government in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian announcement that, “Israel has imposed a total blockade on Gaza, no electricity, no water, just damage. You wanted hell, you will get hell”. Israel Katz, Israel’s Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, warned, “For years we supplied Gaza with electricity, water and fuel. Instead of saying thank you, they sent thousands of human animals to slaughter, murder, rape and kidnap babies, women and the elderly - that's why we decided to stop the flow of water, electricity and fuel and now their local power station has collapsed and there is no electricity in Gaza.”

Our organisations warn that the cutting off of water, electricity, and internet in Gaza, the denial of entry of humanitarian convoys of food, medicine, and other supplies necessary for the survival of the population through Rafah crossing are all  evidence that Israel is taking steps to act on its inciteful genocidal statements. Genocide means any of the following enumerated acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. It is clear that Israel is deliberately inflicting on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

It is now incumbent on the international community to intervene to prevent an impending genocide. The International Court of Justice has clarified that “a State’s obligation to prevent, and the corresponding duty to act, arise at the instant that the State learns of, or should normally have learned of, the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed. From that moment onwards, if the State has available to it means likely to have a deterrent effect on those suspected of preparing genocide, or reasonably suspected of harbouring specific intent (dolus specialis), it is under a duty to make such use of these means as the circumstances permit”.[1]

Third States not only have an obligation to intervene to protect the Palestinian population against genocide, Third State responsibility is “incurred if the State manifestly failed to take all measures to prevent genocide which were within its power, and which might have contributed to preventing the genocide”.[2] It should further be noted, that a previous warning was issued against Israel by the Special Advisers of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, and on the Responsibility to Protect, in July 2014, in response to Israel's conduct against the protected Palestinian population. The Special Advisors warned then, that they were “disturbed by the flagrant use of hate speech in the social media, particularly against the Palestinian population”. The Special Advisers noted that individual Israelis had disseminated messages that could be dehumanising to the Palestinians and had called for the killing of members of this group. The Advisers reasserted that incitement to commit atrocity crimes is prohibited under international law.

In light of the above, we urge Third States to cooperate towards ending the situation arising from Israel’s continued incitement to commit acts of genocide in breach of peremptory norms of international law. Third State’s obligations include the obligation to refrain from assisting in maintaining such an illegal situation, and to cooperate to bring the illegal conduct to an end. Genocide is the most heinous crime in the international legal order, at the apex of the hierarchy of crimes. Third States must comply with international law. Third States must immediately act to prevent acts of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people.