Israel seeking to justify what would amount to 'ethnic cleansing': UN expert

Israel seeking to justify what would amount to 'ethnic cleansing': UN expert

UN, member states must intensify efforts to mediate cease-fire before 'a point of no return' reached, says Francesca Albanese

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

GENEVA (AA) - A UN expert on Saturday warned that Israel is seeking to justify what would amount to "ethnic cleansing" in the name of self-defense.

"The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel has reached fever pitch," said Francesca Albanese, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

"The United Nations and its Member States must intensify efforts to mediate an immediate cease-fire between the parties before we reach a point of no return," Albanese said.

She further said that there is a "grave danger" that what the world is witnessing might be "a repeat of the 1948 Nakba, and the 1967 Naksa, yet on a larger scale."

The international community must do everything to stop this from happening again, she urged.

"Israel has already carried out mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians under the fog of war," the rapporteur said. "Again, in the name of self-defense, Israel is seeking to justify what would amount to ethnic cleansing."

Albanese stressed that any continued military operation by Israel "have gone well beyond the limits of international law."

"Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in peace, equality of rights, dignity and freedom," she said.

The Israeli army on Friday ordered all residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes and head to the south, despite warnings that this would lead to an international humanitarian disaster.

In a dramatic escalation of Middle East tensions, a week ago Israeli forces launched a sustained and forceful military campaign against the Gaza Strip, a response to a military offensive by the Palestinian group Hamas in Israeli territories.

The conflict began last Saturday when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.

Hamas said the operation was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.

The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.

Israel's response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has endured a crippling siege since 2007, as well as ordering over 1 million Gazans in the northern strip to evacuate to the southern strip within 24 hours.

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