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Gaza ‘most clear-cut case of genocide’, ex-UN official says

Gaza ‘most clear-cut case of genocide’, ex-UN official reiterates after resignation
3 min read
03 December, 2023
Craig Mokhiber, formerly head of the UN rights commission's New York office, has accused global powers of complicity in a 'clear-cut case of genocide' by Israel in Gaza.
Mokhiber's resignation letter protested the UN's lack of action on Israel's brutal bombardment and siege of the Gaza Strip [Getty]

A top UN official who recently resigned from his post in protest of Israel's war on Gaza has described the brutal campaign as the "most clear-cut case of genocide".

Craig Mokhiber, who was director of the New York office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, resigned from his position on 28 October, saying that the UN had failed to stop a genocide from occurring in Gaza - where Israel has killed more than 15,500 people in less than two months.

Mokhiber doubled down on that position in an interview with The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, published Sunday.

"I realise that the term 'genocide' is being politicised and misused in some circumstances - so as a human rights lawyer, I am careful to apply the term only when there is a prima facie case and the evidence is clear," Mokhiber said.

"Regarding Gaza, this is the most clear-cut case of genocide I have seen in my career," he said, using the United Nations Convention on Genocide as reference.

"We are witnessing genocide in the 21st century, and it seems that the United Nations is once again unable to stop it."

Mokhiber said Israel has been exceptionally brazen in declaring its intent to commit genocide - partly because Tel Aviv is not being held accountable by its allies.

"What's interesting about this case compared to others is that generally when you try to prove genocidal intent, you need to get secret government documents and files, and dig through old secret archives to find indicators of intent."

"Here we have frank and clear statements of genocidal intent by senior Israeli officials, both public and official, including the president, the prime minister, senior ministers and senior military officials. 

"They have a strong sense of impunity, frankly because of the protection they enjoy from the United States, Britain, and Europe in international forums."

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Mokhiber, a human rights lawyer, has documented rights abuses in Palestine since the 1980s and went on to work in Gaza as a human rights advisor in the 1990s. 

His letter, written a few weeks into Israel's brutal military campaign in Gaza, had been addressed to Volker Turk, High Commissioner for Human Rights. He had been due to step down from his role having reached retirement age.

The UN body quickly distanced itself from Mokhiber and his statements, with its media office saying he had expressed his personal opinion in the letter, that the letter did not represent the views of the United Nations, and that his decision to leave his position had come in March.