U.N. Expert in Israel Genocide Accusation Says She Has Been Threatened

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Francesca Albanese, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, attends a side event during the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 26, 2024.

GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations expert who published a report saying there were reasonable grounds to believe Israel has committed genocide in Gaza during its military campaign against Hamas said on Wednesday she had received threats throughout her mandate.

Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the West Bank and Gaza, presented a report entitled “Anatomy of a Genocide” to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday, which Israel said it “utterly rejects.”

Asked whether her work on the report had caused her to receive threats, Albanese said: “Yes, I do receive threats. Nothing that so far I considered needing extra precautions. Pressure? Yes, and it doesn’t change either my commitment or the results of my work.”

Albanese, who has held the position since 2022, did not elaborate on the nature of the threats, nor did she say who had issued them.

“It’s been a difficult time,” she said. “I’ve always been attacked since the very beginning of my mandate.”

Israel has harangued Albanese, saying she was “delegitimising the very creation and existence of the State of Israel.” Albanese denied the accusation.

Albanese said one of her key findings was that Israel’s executive and military leadership and soldiers have intentionally “subverted their protection functions in an attempt to legitimize genocidal violence against the Palestinian people.”

“The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the unveiling of this policy is an Israeli state policy of genocidal violence toward the Palestinian people in Gaza,” she said.

Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said the use of the word genocide was “outrageous” and said the war was against Hamas and not Palestinian civilians.

Albanese, an Italian lawyer and academic, is one of dozens of independent human rights experts mandated by the United Nations to report on specific themes and crises. The views expressed by special rapporteurs do not reflect those of the global body as a whole.