A United Nations, human rights expert, has urgently called for a cessation of hostilities between Hamas and Israeli forces on Saturday, expressing deep concern about the potential for widespread displacement of Palestinians.
Francesca Albanese, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, warned of a critical situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. She stressed the need for the United Nations and its Member States to intensify their efforts to mediate an immediate ceasefire between the parties before it becomes irreversible. Albanese also emphasized the international community’s responsibility to prevent and protect populations from atrocity crimes, advocating for prompt accountability for international crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces and Hamas.
A press release accompanying her statement disclosed that over 1,900 Palestinians, including at least 600 children, have lost their lives since the previous Saturday. Additionally, more than 423,000 people have been displaced due to Israeli airstrikes.
The press release coincided with Israel’s directive to approximately one million Palestinians in the northern region of Gaza to evacuate to the southern part of the territory. The U.N. expressed concern about the challenges posed by such a massive relocation within a 24-hour timeframe, further exacerbated by blackouts in the area. Israel had also stipulated that it would only permit supplies into Gaza if Hamas released hostages taken into the territory.
Albanese warned that the current situation could potentially resemble the tragic events of the 1948 Nakba and the 1967 Naksa, albeit on a larger scale. She urged the international community to take decisive action to prevent history from repeating itself.
The Nakba, as explained in the release, refers to the events of 1947-1949 when over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes and lands during the hostilities that led to the establishment of the State of Israel. The Naksa, a similar event in 1967, resulted in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, displacing 350,000 Palestinians.