International community is ‘failing to prevent genocide’ in Gaza, UN experts warn

United Nations experts have warned that the international community is failing to prevent genocide in Gaza as Israel’s ongoing offensive has caused more than 11,000 deaths, mass displacement and the destruction of infrastructure.

More than a dozen UN Special Rapporteurs said there was evidence of “increasing genocidal incitement” from Israeli officials regarding war plans for Gaza and an intent to “destroy the Palestinian people.”

“Many of us already raised the alarm about the risk of genocide in Gaza,” the experts said in a statement released by the UN. “We are also profoundly concerned about the support of certain governments for Israel’s strategy of warfare against the besieged population of Gaza, and the failure of the international system to mobilise to prevent genocide,” they added.

The experts said that a failure to “urgently implement a ceasefire risks this situation spiralling towards a genocide conducted with 21st century means and methods of warfare.”

“This occurs amidst Israel’s tightening of its 16-year unlawful blockade of Gaza, which has prevented people from escaping and left them without food, water, medicine and fuel for weeks now, despite international appeals to provide access for critical humanitarian aid. As we previously said, intentional starvation amounts to a war crime,” the experts said.

Special Rapporteurs are independent experts who produce reports for UN member states as part of the UN Human Rights Council. The UN describes them as independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity. The letter was also signed by other UN experts.

Israel’s war on Gaza was launched in response to an attack by Hamas that killed more than 1,200 people in southern Israel on 7 October. Since then, Israel has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to local officials, including more than 4,700 children. UN Secretary General António Guterres said last week that the war had turned Gaza into a “graveyard for children”. In addition, almost 200 medics, 102 UN staff and 41 journalists have also been killed, according to the UN.

The letter comes as the World Food Program warned that Gaza citizens face an imminent risk of starvation without urgently needed food and water supplies.

Cindy McCain, director of the UN WFP, warned that supplies of food and water are “practically non-existent”, while “only a fraction” of what is desperately needed is crossing into Gaza borders during Israel’s siege.

“With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation,” she said in a statement through the agency on Thursday. “There is no way to meet current hunger needs with one operational border crossing. The only hope is opening another, safe passage for humanitarian access to bring life-saving food into Gaza.”

On Friday, after barring the entry of fuel since the start of its war against Hamas, Israel’s war cabinet announced it would allow up to two fuel trucks per day into Gaza for “minimal” support for water, sewerage and sanitary systems.

The United Nations was forced to stop deliveries following yet another collapse of communications services from fuel and power outages on Thursday, which have paralysed aid coordination among humanitarian groups already struggling to enter the region.