Israel’s non-stop bombardment of Gaza reached new extremes as at least 400 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes targeting a Gaza refugee camp on Tuesday.
The Director of the New York Office of UN High Commissioner of Human Rights has resigned in protest over the organisation’s inability to take action against Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza, describing western governments as “wholly complicit in the horrific assault”.
“Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the Organisation that we serve appears powerless to stop it,” Craig Mokhiber said in a statement addressed to the UN high commissioner in Geneva, Volker Turk.
The director, who had worked with the UN for more than three decades, wrote a four-page letter that called the Israeli war an “ethno-nationalist colonial-settler ideology” designed to uphold a “systematic persecution” of Arabs.
“The current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist colonial-settler ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs … leaves no room for doubt,” Mokhiber added.
He added that the strategies used by the Israeli government on Palestinians is a “text-book case of genocide” and said the US, UK, and much of Europe were not only complicit in the massacre but have allowed Western corporate media to dehumanise Palestinians.
“What’s more, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe are wholly complicit in the horrific assault,” he wrote. “US-based social media companies are suppressing the voices of human rights defenders while amplifying pro-Israel propaganda.”
“Israel-lobby online trolls and Gongos [government-sponsored non-governmental organisations] are harassing and smearing human rights defenders, and Western universities and employers are collaborating with them to punish those who dare to speak out against the atrocities,” the attorney in international human rights law expressed.
Mokhiber also called for the UN to adopt a 10-point plan that addresses several points, including the abandonment of the two-state solution, the return and recompense of expelled Palestinians, as well as the disarmament of Israel, including its nuclear weapons.
Mokhiber’s 10-point plan
- Legitimate action: First, we in the UN must abandon the failed (and largely disingenuous) Oslo paradigm, its illusory two-state solution, its impotent and complicit Quartet, and its subjugation of international law to the dictates of presumed political expediency. Our positions must be unapologetically based on international human rights and international law.
- Clarity of vision: We must stop the pretence that this is simply a conflict over land or religion between two warring parties and admit the reality of the situation in which a disproportionately powerful state is colonising, persecuting, and dispossessing an indigenous population on the basis of their ethnicity.
- One state based on human rights: We must support the establishment of a single, democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine, with equal rights for Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and, therefore, the dismantling of the deeply racist, settler-colonial project and an end to apartheid across the land.
- Fighting apartheid: We must redirect all UN efforts and resources to the struggle against apartheid, just as we did for South Africa in the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s.
- Return and compensation: We must reaffirm and insist on the right to return and full compensation for all Palestinians and their families currently living in the occupied territories, in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and in the diaspora across the globe.
- Truth and justice: We must call for a transitional justice process, making full use of decades of accumulated UN investigations, enquiries, and reports, to document the truth, and to ensure accountability for all perpetrators, redress for all victims, and remedies for documented injustices.
- Protection: We must press for the deployment of a well-resourced and strongly mandated UN protection force with a sustained mandate to protect civilians from the river to the sea.
- Disarmament: We must advocate for the removal and destruction of Israel’s massive stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, lest the conflict lead to the total destruction of the region and, possibly, beyond.
- Mediation: We must recognise that the US and other Western powers are in fact not credible mediators, but rather actual parties to the conflict who are complicit with Israel in the violation of Palestinian rights, and we must engage them as such.
- Solidarity: We must open our doors (and the doors of the SG) wide to the legions of Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian human rights defenders who are standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine and their human rights and stop the unconstrained flow of Israel lobbyists to the offices of UN leaders, where they advocate for continued war, persecution, apartheid and impunity, and smear our human rights defenders for their principled defence of Palestinian rights.
“This will take years to achieve, and Western powers will fight us every step of the way, so we must be steadfast,” Mokhiber wrote as he continued to call for an “immediate ceasefire and an end to the longstanding siege on Gaza.”
“In the immediate term, we must work for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the longstanding siege on Gaza, stand up against the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank (and elsewhere), document the genocidal assault in Gaza, help to bring massive humanitarian aid and reconstruction to the Palestinians, take care of our traumatised colleagues and their families, and fight like hell for a principled approach in the UN’s political offices,” Mokhiber stated.
He also pointed to the UN’s “failure” in Palestine thus far but said it is “not a reason for us to withdraw.
“Rather it should give us the courage to abandon the failed paradigm of the past, and fully embrace a more principled course. Let us, as OHCHR, boldly and proudly join the anti-apartheid movement that is growing all around the world, adding our logo to the banner of equality and human rights for the Palestinian people.
“The world is watching. We will all be accountable for where we stood at this crucial moment in history. Let us stand on the side of justice,” Mokhiber wrote before concluding his letter.
Growing global stance against Israel
As of Wednesday, Israel has killed at least 8,525 Palestinians, including 3,457 children who represent more than 40% of the toll. Around 21,000 wounded individuals have been struggling to receive necessary treatment due to limited resources in the Strip, which has been under a brutal siege since October 8.
Despite calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the occupying state is “expanding” ground operations in Gaza.
On Tuesday, Israel struck the densely-populated Jabalia refugee camp and killed at least 400 Palestinians, according to WAFA news agency. On Wednesday, Hamas confirmed seven Israeli captives were also killed in that attack.
Following the attack on the refugee camp, Bolivia “decided to break diplomatic relations with the Israeli state in repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive taking place in the Gaza Strip,” Deputy Foreign Minister Freddy Mamani said at a press conference.
Bolivia’s presidency minister, Maria Nela Prada, announced the country would ship humanitarian aid to areas in Gaza, noting the war as a “forced displacement of Palestinians.”
“We demand an end to the attacks, which have so far caused thousands of civilian deaths and the forced displacement of Palestinians,” Prada said.
Meanwhile, Colombia, and Chile have recalled their ambassadors from Israel and condemned the killing of civilians in Gaza, amid calls for a ceasefire.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric blamed Israel for “unacceptable violations of International Humanitarian Law,” announcing the recalling of his country’s Ambassador on X.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro called the attacks a “massacre of the Palestinian people,” writing: “I have decided to recall our ambassador in Israel for consultation” on X.
Over in Europe, Belgian transport workers’ unions have refused to handle military equipment being sent to Israel.
The collective unions of (ACV Puls, BTB, BBTK, and ACV-Transcom) said in a joint statement that airport workers have seen arms shipments and asked the Belgian government to not tolerate arms shipments through Belgian airports.
“While genocide is underway in Palestine, workers at various airports in Belgium are seeing arms shipments in the direction of the war zone,” the statement wrote.
“We, several unions active in ground logistics, call on our members not to handle any flights that ship military equipment to Palestine/Israel, like there were clear agreements and rules at the start of the conflict with Russia and Ukraine,” the statement added.
“As unions, we stand with those who campaign for peace,” the statement declared.
France’s interior minister, who ordered local authorities to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations last month, has been criticised by members of the French parliamentarian.
“France must have the courage of peace and demand a ceasefire,” Mathilde Panot, who is also president of left wing group, France Unbowed, said.
“The rest of us, insubordinate, will not have to blush in front of history,” the French official added.
American politician Elizabeth Warren, who is facing pressure from hundreds of her former staffers calling on her to “demand an immediate ceasefire,” has condemned the blast at Gaza’s largest refugee camp.
The former 2020 Presidential candidate said, “Horrible. Israel has an obligation to protect civilians under the laws of war. Hamas’s use of innocent Palestinians as human shields does not excuse bombing a location filled with civilians.”