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UN staff sign letter condemning double standard in statement by special adviser on the prevention of genocide

Around 50 United Nations staff, including Palestinians, have signed a letter addressed to the UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, condemning a statement she issued on 16 October. 

In the letter, the staff say they are “deeply disturbed and personally traumatised by the bombardment and recent escalation of the collective punishment in Gaza. We are equally disturbed and concerned over the active threat to the lives of thousands of our colleagues and to millions of Palestinians residing in Gaza.”

The letter adds: “while we join you in condemning the intentional attacks and abduction of Israeli civilians by Hamas, we expected that your statement regarding Israel’s attacks on and collective punishment of Palestinian civilians would have been equally clear and unequivocal.”

The letter states that the statement makes no mention of the 16-year blockade on Gaza and the collective punishment imposed on Gaza’s population, as well as the withholding of water, medicine, electricity, fuel and other basic humanitarian needs.

“The 16 October public statement seemed to ignore the illegal and inhumane order issued by Israel, which demanded that the UN and 1.1 million Palestinian civilians transfer themselves from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip, even as Israel was relentlessly bombing. 

The letter lists numerous instances where Israeli officials have used dehumanising and threatening language aimed at Palestinians.