Crisis in the Middle East: UN Expert Raises Alarm on Potential Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians

Crisis in the Middle East: UN Expert Raises Alarm on Potential Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians

In the latest harrowing development from the Middle East, a UN human rights expert, Francesca Albanese, has sounded the alarm on the potential mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Her urgent plea comes amidst the intensifying violence between Hamas and Israeli occupation forces, urging the international community to step in and mediate an immediate ceasefire.

Rising Tensions

The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel has deteriorated rapidly. "The situation... has reached fever pitch," warns Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.

In a span of just one week since 7 October 2023, Israeli strikes have resulted in over 1,900 Palestinian fatalities, including 600 children, and more than 7,600 injuries. Furthermore, over 423,000 Palestinians have been displaced. It's a heart-wrenching reality for a population already battered by five significant wars since 2008 and an unlawful blockade since 2007.

Imminent Displacement

On 12 October, Israeli forces delivered a chilling order for 1.1 million Palestinians in north Gaza: move to the south within a day. With ongoing airstrikes, this directive came right before Israeli forces reportedly began entering Gaza to “clear” the area. The situation for Palestinians worsens as Israel imposes a “complete siege” on Gaza, restricting access to essentials like water, food, fuel, and electricity. The Rafah border crossing, Gaza's lifeline, shut its doors after damages from Israeli airstrikes.

Historical Context

Albanese raised concerns over the current events' eerie resemblance to past tragedies. She referred to the 1948 Nakba, where over 750,000 Palestinians were displaced during the establishment of the State of Israel, and the 1967 Naksa, which resulted in the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and displaced 350,000 Palestinians.

In her words, "There is a grave danger that what we are witnessing may be a repeat of the 1948 Nakba, and the 1967 Naksa, yet on a larger scale."

Calls for Accountability and Peace

The international community has the duty to prevent and protect populations from atrocity crimes, emphasized Albanese. She urges immediate pursuit of accountability for international crimes by both the Israeli occupation forces and Hamas. In a somber conclusion, Albanese remarks, “Any continued military operations by Israel have gone well beyond the limits of international law.”

Both Palestinians and Israelis, she emphasized, deserve a life of peace, equality, dignity, and freedom.

About Francesca Albanese

Francesca Albanese has been serving as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories since 1 May 2022. An Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University, Albanese also advises on Migration and Forced Displacement for the think-tank, Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD). She brings her expertise from her extensive work in the United Nations and her knowledge of international law, with a focus on forced displacement.

[Note: Special Rapporteurs are independent experts part of the UN Human Rights system, operating on a voluntary basis, unaffiliated with any government or organization.]

For more details on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, please refer to the UN Human Rights, Country Pages.