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A top United Nations official, Craig Mokhiber, has resigned and accused the United Nations of failing to address what he calls a textbook case of genocide unfolding in Gaza. Mokhiber, a longtime international human rights lawyer, served as the director of the New York office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In a letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mokhiber expressed his serious concerns about the situation in Gaza and the lack of action by the international community.
Mokhiber cited the widespread attacks on civilian homes, schools, churches, mosques, and medical institutions in Gaza, resulting in the massacre of thousands of civilians. He also highlighted the seizure of homes in the West Bank based on race and the violent actions of Israeli military units alongside settler groups.
Furthermore, Mokhiber criticized the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and various European countries for their complicity in the assault on Gaza. He claimed that these governments not only failed to meet their treaty obligations to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions but actively supported and armed Israel, providing economic, intelligence, political, and diplomatic cover for their actions.
The UN released a statement confirming Mokhiber’s retirement, which he had informed them of in March, and clarified that his views expressed in his resignation letter were personal. Mokhiber’s decision to resign was motivated by his concerns about the UN’s inadequate response to ongoing human rights violations.
Mokhiber emphasized the obligation of all UN member states, including those in the West, to respond in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law. He criticized the Oslo process, which prioritized political expediency over international law, resulting in a loss of human rights in Palestine. Mokhiber called for all states to respect and ensure compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as the Geneva Conventions.
To address the situation, Mokhiber advocated for an end to the attacks on civilians in Gaza, accountability for perpetrators, redress for victims, and protection for the vulnerable. He highlighted the need for a new approach based on equality and equal rights for all people, regardless of race or religion.
Mokhiber expressed frustration with the United Nations’ failure to take decisive action, citing the Security Council’s inability to enforce necessary measures due to veto powers and the lack of transitional justice processes or protection forces for civilians.
In response to the recent Israeli attack on the Jabalia refugee camp, Mokhiber criticized the Israeli Defense Force spokesperson’s admission that they knew civilians and refugees were present in the camp yet still attacked it. He argued that this violated the principle of distinction in international humanitarian law and demonstrated a dangerous and unlawful tactic of bombing civilian targets under the pretext of targeting combatants.
Mokhiber also addressed the accusation of anti-Semitism, pointing out that criticism of Israeli human rights violations is not anti-Semitic but a crucial aspect of defending human rights. He rejected the notion that calling for equal rights for all, including Christians, Muslims, and Jews, constitutes anti-Semitism.
In conclusion, Mokhiber expressed hope in the power of civil society to enact change and hold governments accountable. He praised the protests and demonstrations by ordinary people demanding respect for human rights and condemned attempts to silence human rights defenders.