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Gaza Strip: States are obliged to prevent crimes against humanity and genocide, UN Committee stresses

21 December 2023

GENEVA (21 December 2023) - Amid the delay in voting on the Gaza resolution at the UN Security Council, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination warned of hate speech and dehumanising discourse targeted at Palestinians, raising severe concerns regarding Israel’s and other State parties’ obligation to prevent crimes against humanity and genocide.

In a decision adopted today under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures, the Committee said it is “gravely concerned about the resumption of the brutal hostilities in the occupied Gaza Strip on 1 December 2023 after a seven-day ‘pause’.”

It was deeply shocked by the intensified, brutal and indiscriminate Israeli bombardments from the air, land and sea all across the occupied Gaza Strip and the expansion of the Israeli military ground operation to the south of the occupied Gaza Strip, resulting in the killing of about 20,000 Palestinians. The catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the occupied Gaza Strip, it said, raised serious concerns regarding the obligation of Israel and other State parties to prevent crimes against humanity and genocide.

The Committee also voiced its grave concerns about the racist hate speech, incitement to violence and genocidal actions, as well as dehumanising rhetoric targeted at Palestinians since 7 October 2023 by Israeli senior government officials, Parliament members, politicians and public figures.

It also raised the alarm on the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in the past few weeks, including the increase in unlawful use of lethal force by the Israeli forces, violence by settlers, arbitrary arrests and detention of Palestinians.

The Committee urged an immediate and sustained ceasefire in the occupied Gaza Strip.[1]

It called upon Israel and the State of Palestine to fully collaborate with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, in their investigations.

Highly alarmed by the killing of at least 136 UN staff, the Committee asked Israel to grant access to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to document significant violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including those committed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

The Committee urged all States parties to ensure that all those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as other international crimes in the ongoing armed conflicts are promptly brought to justice.

The full decision is available online.

For more information and media requests in Geneva, please contact:
UN Human Rights Office Media Section at

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination monitors States parties’ adherence to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which, to date has 182 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.

[1] The five members of the Committee who comprise the Ad Hoc Conciliation Commission on the State of Palestine and Israel recused themselves from the decision.

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