Draft UN Report Finds Israel Has Met Threshold for Genocide

Yves here. Note the UN body that is set to release this report is not the International Court of Justice, which is not expected to rule on South Africa’s genocide filing any time soon, but the UN Human Rights Council. However, this report will serve as important evidence in that case. And in combination with the long-overdue UN resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, this should increase Israel’s isolation. Israel is relying on the notion that it can ride out the slaughter because it has US backing. But as we have described, the conflict is already imposing large costs on Israel’s economy. These developments if nothing else will put more pressure on companies and countries not to do business with Israel.

Sadly, the Israel leadership and most of its population is high on blood lust and overweening sense of entitlement. And there’s no ready way to get them to sober up. The only wild card I can see somewhat slowing the murderous conduct is Biden dying in office. Harris would correctly be seen as weak and not able to protect Israel’s back as well as Biden.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday published a draft report that found “reasonable grounds to believe” that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, a move that came on the same day as the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in the ongoing war.

The advance unedited version of the report—entitled Anatomy of a Genocide—concludes that Israel’s far-right government and military “have intentionally distorted jus in bello principles, subverting their protective functions, in an attempt to legitimize genocidal violence against the Palestinian people.”

“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,” the draft report states, enumerating Israeli actions that violate Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: “Killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to group members; and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

“Israel has de facto treated an entire protected group and its life-sustaining infrastructure as ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist-supporting,’ thus transforming everything and everyone into either a target or collateral damage, hence killable or destroyable,” the paper continues. “In this way, no Palestinian in Gaza is safe by definition. This has had devastating, intentional effects, costing the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians, destroying the fabric of life in Gaza, and causing irreparable harm to its entire population.”

Israel rejected the report as “an obscene inversion of reality.”

According to Palestinian and international humanitarian officials, Israel’s 171-day Gaza onslaught has killed at least 32,333 Palestinians, most of them women and children, while wounding nearly 75,000 others and displacing around 90% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people. Thousands more Palestinians are missing and believed to be dead and buried beneath the rubble of bombed buildings. Disease and deadly starvation caused and exacerbated by Israel’s siege and blockade of Gaza are spreading rapidly.

“Israel’s genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza is an escalatory stage of a long-standing settler-colonial process of erasure,” the draft report asserts. “For over seven decades this process has suffocated the Palestinian people as a group—demographically, culturally, economically, and politically—seeking to displace it and expropriate and control its land and resources.”

Referring to the flight and ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Arabs from Palestine during the foundation of the modern state of Israel in 1948, the paper contends that “the ongoing Nakba must be stopped and remedied once and for all. This is an imperative owed to the victims of this highly preventable tragedy, and to future generations in that land.”

The draft report urges U.N. member states to “enforce the prohibition of genocide in accordance with their… obligations” under international law. In January, the U.N.’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Israel was “plausibly” perpetrating genocide in Gaza and ordered the country’s government to “take all measures within its power” to prevent genocidal acts. Human rights defenders say Israel has ignored the order.

“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,” the publication argues.

The draft report recommends measures including:

  • Immediate implementation of an arms embargo on Israel, as it appears to have failed to comply with the binding measures ordered by the ICJ;
  • Immediate referral of the situation in Palestine to the International Criminal Court in support of its ongoing investigation;
  • Ensuring that Israel, as well as states who have been complicit in the Gaza genocide, acknowledge the colossal harm done, commit to nonrepetition, with measures for prevention and full reparations, including the full cost of the reconstruction of Gaza;
  • Deploying an international protective presence to constrain the violence routinely used against Palestinians in the occupied territories; and
  • Ensuring that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is properly funded to enable it to meet the increased needs of Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel on Monday informed the U.N. that it will no longer allow UNRWA convoys carrying food aid into northern Gaza, even as the Palestinians are starving to death, a move that one humanitarian campaigner called a “death sentence.”

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    1. ddt

      No problem befriending individual Israelis. But when the other shoe drops, and Israelis collectively are the ones on the receiving end, there will be no sympathy whatsoever.

  1. ISL

    “And there’s no ready way to get them to sober up.” IMHO, only Hezbollah can do that. Otherwise, the steady attrition of Israeli economy and military will continue – Crooke suggests 500-600,000 have left, the ones with a conscience and skills in demand for an advanced economy.

    This may force the EU hand – with war crimes arrests for Israeli leaders who seek advanced medical treatment – its a long flight to the US and pushes the calculus for on-the-fence key players like Erdogan.

      1. ISL

        Sure, but that is like expecting an addict* to stop taking drugs without treatment, support infrastructure, alternatives, etc. It only happens once in a blue moon. And addict promises they stopped are worthless as they hide their cheating. We can see that already in the US administration, which obviates congressional approval by subdividing weapons shipments to below the reporting threshold.

        The real question, is, will the US deplete its arsenal to the point where it cannot fight its planned Taiwan war (for the benefit of Israel)? When Hezbollah enters the fray, the answer is probably.

  2. TomDority

    “The only wild card I can see somewhat slowing the murderous conduct is Biden dying in office. Harris would correctly be seen as weak and not able to protect Israel’s back as well as Biden.”
    No offense but the conversation might better be said – why does Biden have to show strength to protect Israels back when, in my view, protecting Israel’s back is a sign of weakness and further erodes USA standing in the world…..however mucked up thats become.

  3. KD

    Geopolitics today is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Good job Israel, turn yourself into a pariah state and set things up long-term so that America is too embarrassed to continue bankrolling you, and at the same time, commit a horrific genocidal campaign against the Arabs so that any sympathy you might have been able to get off the Holocaust is erased forever. Good job America for helping your “friend” commit militarily-assisted suicide by proxy genocide. Good job Europe for doing nothing either. Brilliant 4D chess I’m sure.

  4. JonnyJames

    Zionism is a racist political ideology, the Israeli blood lust for genocide is based on their belief that Palestinians are “animals” and need to be exterminated. That’s quite a convenient excuse for stealing other people’s land and murdering them.

    Despite the cheap PR stunt of the Biden regime, the US continues to send weapons

    As for the “elections”: DT’s son-in-law and Netanyahu’s buddy, JaredKushner is eyeing “waterfront property” in Gaza. Theft, mass murder to “make a killing”. Whadda guy eh?

    There is no way to “vote” against the interests of Israel and the Zionists

    1. Rip Van Winkle

      Ritter on Judge Nap show last Thursday talking about the ‘waterfront property’ anecdote etc. – “the last person to whisper in Trump’s ear before he makes an important decision is Jared Kushner.”

  5. Aurelien

    OK, the Human Rights Council is one of those subordinate bodies to the General Assembly, where states elect a number of delegates to represent their region, so in many ways it’s a kind of mini-GA, with the same kind of balance of power. It has 47 members, and the current President is a Moroccan. It’s a political, rather than a legal body, and votes and membership are usually decided on political lines.

    The draft report is written by an Italian academic who has not had access to the territory, and whose report is based in part on media reporting and in part on reports of NGOs and international institutions. That doesn’t mean it’s worthless-far from it- but it does put it essentially in the same position as many other reports, coming to broadly the same conclusions, over recent months. The report can’t be used as evidence because it involves no original research or new facts. The report has obviously been written with an eye to the internal politics of the HRC: genocide is described as “inherent to settler-colonialism” (which it obviously isn’t, since for thousands of years colonies were established without wiping out the indigenous population) but the argument is that Israel’s behaviour here is comparable with that of the Germans in South-West Africa or the American colonists.

    The problem, as always with genocide is intent. No matter how well-established the crime-base may be, you have to prove “intent,” not just to be violent and destructive but to deliberately plan and implement one of the specific acts in the Convention. In practice, this is virtually impossible, and indeed the Convention, born among the murky politics of the early Cold War, was never really intended to be used to prosecute individuals: it was largely an exercise in collective virtue signalling. As a result, the few successful genocide convictions there have been, have resulted from the judges finding creative ways to infer “intent” without any real evidence. I remember talking to a lawyer involved in the so-called “Government” trial of Rwandan ex-ministers, who said that when he arrived he was told that it was an open and shut case of genocide. When he asked for the evidence, he was told there wasn’t any. It was just that no-one could believe that Africans were capable of killing on such a large scale without some kind of central plan and direction. Much the same argument is used here: the “nature and scale” of the atrocities, together with media reports of frightening and disgusting statements by Israeli politicians are proof of planning and intent. Again, that doesn’t just mean intent to kill and destroy, but also very specific acts as set out in the Convention. Whether a Court would accept that, I have no idea.

    But in many ways that’s beside the point. I’ve always argued that fussing about “genocide” as intent when the facts are not in doubt is a waste of time and effort. It’s almost impossible to prove without doing violence to the law, and at the end of the day people are not more dead and communities not more destroyed because the label has been changed. Genocide is, essentially, a political tool in controversies between states, and the South Africans very cleverly realised that, because the Convention requires states to prevent and punish the crime, they could take Israel to the ICC for failing to meet its treaty obligations. But that was a political manoeuvre, albeit cleverly disguised as a legal case, and the same is really true here. The balance of voting in the HRC means that the report will be agreed, and may even be strengthened but, with apologies to any lawyers in the house, that will be a political judgement, not a legal one.

    1. TomDority

      Well, my legal and civillian judgment will be at the voting booth… if that matters at all. A jackass like Trump who wants nothing more than to tantrum and Biden who plays cynical lip service won’t get my vote

    2. The Heretic

      Proof of intent, when after an obvious and substantial damage has been inflicted by the perpetrator, over non-trivial period of time, is an egregious perversion of justice that does violence to the credibility and trustworthiness of the law in the eyes of the victims and the rest of society (except of course in the eyes of wicked and greedy and negligent and others like them). Hence no convictions for the 2007 financial crisis, the Sackler opioid mass addiction sales policies etc.. it is poison to the body politic. This contributes to the ‘post truth era’, as institutions that are supposed to be serving society for the common good, are exposed as venal perfidious entities providing protection for the rich and wicked. (FYI, Not all rich people are wicked, and the wicked who are poor are swiftly jailed, as are the poor who make mistakes)

      This is one of the contributing factors that has brought about the ‘decline of rhe west’

    3. The Heretic

      The strong do what they can, the weak endure what they must..

      The strong command, the weak use reason… (Attibutable to Nietzsche, but my quote might not be accurate) Only among approximate equals do they negotiate….

      If ICJ continues, even at a moderatley accelerated pace; the ethnic cleansing of Gaza will be de-facto achieved; the US will still run cover for Israel, and no Israelis will be brought to court. All according to ‘someone’s plan’.

      The only real check, or real consequences to this action, will come from other strong players in the region, who will gather the support of all those who are disgusted by these actions, and be able to form a strong united front that can cause Israel to stop; but wether this coalition will materialize in time to stop the cleansing action, is unlikely.

      1. Craig Dempsey

        Here is an online essay about Thucydides and hints of how his History of the Peloponnesian War might foreshadow what is happening in Israel. Let’s just say that the brutal way the Athenians conquered the Melians after brutally telling the Melians what would happen, was followed by the Athenians disastrous attempt to conquer Sicily. So what is the lesson for the American Empire? Hard to say since America has gone from disaster to disaster with nothing happening except military contractors making record profits.

        1. You're soaking in it!

          “…when love is gone
          there’s always justice.

          and when justice is gone
          there’s always force.

          and when force is gone
          there’s always mom.

          Hi mom!”

    4. Kouros

      in the last article in the Economist regarding the famine in Gaza does not mention once Israel… Yeah, it is hard to prove “intent”. Razing gardens and orchards, destroying hospitals and killing and imprisoning medical staff, destroying treatment plants, blocking aid, destroying boats for fishing, destroying shelterhomes, etc., etc., is not “intent”, it is enactment.

  6. Es s Ce Tera

    “The only wild card I can see somewhat slowing the murderous conduct is Biden dying in office. ”

    Also, another wild card might be the worldwide Jewish and Palestinian diaspora. Will they come together to solve the problem of supremacist Kahanist Zionism (which seems to be the only flavor of Zionism nowadays)? If they do, perhaps in our lifetime we’ll see reconciliation.

  7. CA


    Aaron Maté @aaronjmate

    Scandalous beyond words:

    The Biden admin has deemed that Israel is respecting international law and is not blocking aid to Gaza. This certification allows US weapons to continue flowing to Israel unimpeded:

    “We’ve had ongoing assessments of Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law. We have not found them to be in violation, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or the provision of humanitarian assistance.”


    3:59 PM · Mar 25, 2024

    1. eg

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

      ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

    1. David in Friday Harbor

      Bingo! Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese addresses just this issue in her Recommendations:

      …as well as states who have been complicit in the Gaza genocide…

      This will become problematic for the U.S. government now that the Security Council has passed a ceasefire resolution that may be implemented by the General Assembly, where there is no veto power.

      If the General Assembly, by majority vote, adopts the immediate arms embargo recommended by the Special Rapporteur, will the US, UK, and EU cease shipments and blockade arms? If they do not, are they then complicit in the Gaza genocide and subject to sanctions by the international community?

      Given the de-industrialization of the US, the UK, and now Germany, what will the impact of sanctions be on daily life the those countries, who are abjectly dependent on imported manufactured goods?

      Is the sanctions worm about to turn?

      1. Aurelien

        UNGA resolutions are non-binding and have no legal force.
        Anyway, isn’t there an ex-Indian diplomat who always pops up and tells us that any sanctions not agreed by the Security Council (eg against Russia) are illegal?

        1. David in Friday Harbor

          Sanctions resolutions may be non-binding, but they can provide a legal justification were a “rival” nation, say China, to choose to throttle-back on certain exports which might exacerbate already existing social instability in the U.S. — n’est-ce que pas?

          1. Aurelien

            Not really, since UNGA resolutions are only expression of opinion. But it’s certainly true that they would provide a very powerful political justification for sanctions, or any other course of action the Chinese wanted to take.

            1. David if Friday Harbor

              There is a strong argument that if the U.S. and/or Israel appealed the imposition of sanctions approved by a UNGA resolution to the ICJ, the nation enforcing sanctions could raise the resolution as a legal defense under Article 38.1 as a part of “c. the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.”

              I note that the Security Council resolution calling for a Ramadan ceasefire and release of all hostages has fallen-off both the NYT and WaPo landing pages, but remains both the lead news story and lead op-ed on the Global Times website.

          2. Objective Ace

            What do you mean “legal justification”? You mean to tell me China has no autonomy and cant just stop exporting to the US whenever it pleases?

            1. ISL

              It would allow China to invalidate delivery contracts with strong legal support behind it.

              Of course, China could, as the US continually does, break contracts, which leads to litigation, which in the US tends to go one way only (current global arbitration courts are notoriously unsympathetic to non-US plaintiffs – I wonder if BRICs is setting up parallel institutions).

              However, canceling contracts without strong legal support is a sure-fire approach to NOT win future customers and contracts as suppliers seek more reliable sources.

  8. Cristobal

    The United States, when it was still able to strong arm UN resolutions that it wanted, used those resolutions to invade, bomb, etc, other countries. The US was able to hide behind a supposed international law to do its will. The current finding is, as has been said above, just words and as such is pretty weak tea. It could, however, serve as a justification for unilateral or joint action by a nation or alliance that wanted to enforce an embargo, delivery of aid, or some other action that wold greatly provoke the Israeli government. It wuld be an escalation for sure, but that is what is needed.

      1. ISL

        The Houthi’s are, and presumably regional actors are supporting through at a minimum targeting information (and where did the new missile that flew 1000 miles through Saudi antiaircraft coverage to hit Israel coming from?). Or did the Saudi’s let it through. Such “deniable” aid could easily be increased by orders of magnitude and the embargo on Israeli’ ports could become airtight, only leaving air transport – which would strangle the Israeli economy faster.

        Also, note, Israel depends on repairing the war’s economic destruction through trade with the world. Status as a pariah state, means a lack of that trade – then most Israeli’s will emigrate, leaving a weak and impoverished state in a downward spiral.

  9. JTMcPhee

    Genocide is a crime of intent, no? The Israelis crossed the “conspiracy to commit genocide” line decades ago, and the predicate acts of the crime also occurred decades ago. Missing the two essentials at law: an enforcer, and a tribunal to legitimize the enforcement. But all this presumes there is a “rule of law” mind set and structure — no such thing. All about power, and savagery, as discussed elsewhere in NC today.

    1. JonnyJames

      I agree. Israel has ignored UN resolutions and international laws for decades, it reacted to the ICJ ruling with predictable utter contempt. The US has committed rafts of crimes with impunity as well, as did the British. Tony Blair and Bush Jr. have been rewarded for their crimes. The TBTF perps were never even investigated, let alone prosecuted (see prof. Bill Black). And we speak of the rule of law with a straight face? I guess blissful denial is more comforting than the hard truth.

      Even if Biden dies in office today, the US will continue to send weapons etc. The only way to stop Israel, as Yves alluded, is for them to feel economic pain that hampers their ability to continue the genocide. Or: massive military brute force is used to stop them, but no one is willing to provoke a Samson Option. Therefore, a complete economic/financial blockade, like the one the US imposes on Cuba for example, would be the best course of action against Israel.

      There is no rule of law, only power and interests.

      (The law and taxes are only for the “little people”)

    2. britzklieg

      “The Israelis crossed the “conspiracy to commit genocide” line decades ago.” Point, and it’s obscene that they will continue to escape retribution. [family blog] Israel and all who support its murderous, blood-soaked history of arrogance, treachery and criminality.

  10. jefemt

    Bypassed my threshold in December. It was the final nail after the last three decades of Israeli abuse.
    Eff ‘them’. I am embarrassed the US is their Most Effective Proxy.

  11. paul m whalen

    The historical irony is that the Israelis are replicating the tactics of the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. The uprising started on 19 April when the ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who ordered the destruction of the ghetto, block by block, ending on 16 May. A total of 13,000 Jews were killed, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. Stroop reported 110 German casualties, including 17 killed.

    The uprising was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II. The Jews knew that victory was impossible and survival unlikely. Marek Edelman, the last surviving ŻOB commander who died in 2009, said their inspiration to fight was “not to allow the Germans alone to pick the time and place of our deaths”.
    Sound familiar?

    1. You're soaking in it!

      “I and the public know what all schoolchildren learn,
      Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.”

      It takes almost superhuman effort to break out of this. Even Auden repudiated the line “We must love one another or die”; I think it is too real though, not trite.

  12. Jeremy Grimm

    Seal off a territory. Allow no one to leave. Allow neither food nor medical supplies to enter. Now start bombing the enclosed region destroying hospitals and killing as many men, women, and children as possible. Intent? What kind of intent could motivate this kind of killing? Is it really a matter of interpretation for some International Court of ‘Law’? Beachfront property for sale to those who would without second thought build resorts on mounds of human bones using human blood to moisten the mortar. If any country could take part in such wanton cruelty, what better candidate than the u.s.? Israel? I once might have thought Israel had many reasons to be deeply shamed to even consider such actions. Foolish me.

  13. Robert S

    I have no doubt that Israel is committing terrible crimes in Gaza (and the West Bank) against a whole people; and I have seen enough genocidal intent expressed by enough senior figures in the Israeli administration (over a long period of time, going back before Oct 7) that, if I were a judge, I would satisfied that Israel is committing genocide as defined.

    But I cannot see this report shifting opinions much. I want a UN report to have the authority of impartiality and objectivity, and so my heart sank when I read the author saying that Israel’s genocide “is an escalatory stage of a long-standing settler-colonial process of erasure”, etc.

    I happen to agree with her, but she’s giving a strong signal that she has come to this with prejudices and pre-conceptions. And the use of the term “settler-colonial” alone is an indication that she is steeped in a certain way of looking at and describing the world.

    That only serves to give credibility to Israel’s supporters when they discount this as simply another partisan polemic.

    1. Kouros

      Settler colonialsim really depends on the type of settlers and their mindset. In Russia as well as China, who have settled and colonized adacent territories, the original inhabitants are still there and still maintaining strong cultures.

      In Mexico City you rarely see a white caucasian, or not on their metro.

      However, the AngloSaxon colonization, done with the Bible in the left hand and the gun in the right one has left us with little of the original populations and cultures in North America, Australia, Tasmania, and less so in New Zeeland.

      Israel’s colonialism is an magnitude greater in mesianism.


  14. Ashburn

    Seems to me Israel is beyond any hope of redemption, and probably has been for a long time. It is time to begin the abolition of Israel and its racist supremacist and ethno-religious exclusionary ideology of Zionism.

    This will be a protracted process. For the US however, it must start at home. As Israel’s most important benefactor, arms supplier, political and diplomatic champion, nothing moves forward without the US confronting its own criminal behavior. This should start with a serious effort to first recognize and call out the fact that none of today’s horrors would have been possible without decades of US support and encouragement of Israel’s aggressive expansionist behavior. Holding our own political leaders and the Israeli lobby as equally responsible as Netanyahu and his Likud fanatics for the genocide should be our primary focus.

    Yes, end the arms shipments, and the diplomatic support, and threaten sanctions or worse if Israel doesn’t comply. But at the same time let’s set up a US Truth Commission to establish exactly who was responsible for the decisions to send more arms, end support for the UNRWA, veto the prior ceasefire resolutions at the UN, and propose the sham Gaza pier scheme along with the earlier US proposed sham ceasefire resolution that was nothing more than an inept PR stunt.

    Once the US begins a serious examination of the conspirators behind this historical crime much of the rest of complicit West will follow suit.

  15. Luke

    Pro-Hamas murderers (thus, = supporters of the human sea in Gaza they swim in and are supported by) will never mention October 7th, that Gaza was NOT occupied at the time, nor the fact that this all ends as soon as Gaza surrenders in its entirety to stop impeding its criminals facing justice. The OP rang as false as how the atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima (yes, I’ve been there) somehow fails anywhere to mention the Rape of Nanking, Pearl Harbor, Unit 731, >100K “comfort women”, the IJ Navy normally murdering even civilians that fell into their hands while at sea, cannibalism of POWs even by well-supplied IJ Army units, etc., etc., just implying that the bombing of Hiroshima came out of the blue as an isolated, completely unjustified event.

    Given how the author cannot possibly be unaware of those events, that leaves being just an amoral shill for the Muslims, which means that every word he writes (including the word “the”) being best disregarded.

    Oh, and yes, the Israelis would be fully justified in expelling EVERY supporter of Hamas from Gaza. As that’s easily 60-70% of the population (excluding the under-age-6-YO crowd, say), so is the minimum percentage of the locals that have fully earned one-way boat rides. Aleppo comes to mind as a reasonable destination…

    Oh, and with northern Gaza kept essentially unpopulated by would-be terrorists and their supporters they hide among (so no rocket fire from it), that means the Ben-Gurion Canal is now practical to build.

  16. Luke

    Oh, and the Ben-Gurion Canal is now practical to construct, with the threat of terrorist missile fire from Gaza essentially eliminated, as long as the Israelis are wise enough to NOT allow reoccupation of the northern 2/3 of Gaza.


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