The twentieth century has been marked by several genocidal enterprises. In 1899-1902, the United States was closely associated with the genocide of 3 million people in the Philippines[1]. In 1907, King Leopold of Belgium led an army that killed over 10 million people in Congo[2]. In 1915, Turkey carried out the genocide of a million Armenians [3]. Between 1941 and 1944, Germany committed the genocide of 6 million Jews[4] and several thousand Roma[5], not forgetting the genocidal logic at the heart of the Lebensraum project at the expense of the Slavs. Many also recall Rwanda[6].
The 1948 UN definition of genocide (“Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”) is very clear and has been around for a long time. It was adopted 75 years ago[7]. Article II states: “ In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

The facts

The operation of October 7 gave rise to violence on the part of certain fighters belonging to the armed wing of Hamas. Hamas is first and foremost a political party elected in 2006. Its armed wing is waging a legitimate struggle against the occupying power, but this does not preclude the possibility that certain elements within this group may have committed war crimes. Even so, the testimonies of Israelis interviewed after the events reveal that the Israeli army, firing in panic at the attackers, killed an unknown number of Israelis[8].

All aspects of the retaliation point to war crimes. Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari, writing in the Guardian on October 10, 2023, asserted that the army focuses on damage rather than precision, which is easy to observe and is tantamount to admitting that the bombing is indiscriminate[9].

The Israeli attack was also disproportionate. 10,000 civilians were killed and over a million displaced. Hospitals, ambulances and schools have been targeted.

Mooreover, these are collective punishments, committed in broad daylight, even trumpeted, despite collective punishments are war crimes. This is a far cry from the notion of collateral victims. Quite the opposite. The entire population is targeted in the hope that collateral victims would be those of Hamas.

These atrocities are linked to the process of colonization of Palestine and they aggravate it. But can one go further and speak of genocide? The answer seems likely to be in the affirmative. In light of the UN criteria, it must be admitted that there has indeed been murder of a significant proportion of the members of an ethnic group. There has also been an attack on the physical or mental integrity of members of the group, and intentional subjection of the group to conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.


Everything points to the presence of elements a), b), and c) of the UN Convention. However, according to William Schabas, it must also be shown that the acts were committed with the intention of attacking the group[10]. As with any crime that is alleged to have been committed, the prosecution must show that the actions were indeed taken with the intent to harm the physical integrity of the group.

The statements made by the Israeli leaders demonstrate genocidal intent. Likud MP Ariel Kallner declared on the very day of the October 7 uprising: “For the moment, we have only one objective: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 1948”.[11]

On October 9, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip was necessary; “no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed”, he declared: “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly”.[12]

For Major Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council, ” We must put pressure on Gaza so it becomes an area where people cannot live until Hamas is destroyed.” (October 12, 2023)[13]

On October 14, 2023, Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, declared that “it’s a whole nation that’s responsible. This rhetoric about civilians not knowing, not being involved, is absolutely not true. They could have risen up, they could have fought against this diabolical regime”[14].

Major Ghassan Alian, the governmental coordinator for the occupied territories, spelled out Israel’s military intentions. Human animals,” he said, “must be treated as such. There will be no electricity or water in Gaza, only damage.”[15]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a religious hue to the genocidal enterprise when, on October 26, 2023, he declared that the Palestinian people were the people of darkness: “We are the people of light, they are the people of darkness – and light will triumph over darkness.” … ” We will fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy: there will be no more theft at your borders, and your gate will be one of glory” [16].

National Security Minister Ben Gvir was coordinating the distribution of weapons to West Bank settlers on October 29[17]. He opposed the passage of humanitarian aid (“Israel does not deal with humanitarian affairs”) and even said that women and children should be sent to Scotland[18] .

The Minister of Intelligence, Gila Gamliel, recommended transferring the entire population of Gaza to Sinai and considered this a strategic solution [19].

The ideas put forward by the Israeli authorities seem to be having an effect with certain influential elites. The editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Jake Wallis Simons, stated in an article which he later withdrew: “Much of Muslim culture is in the grip of a death cult that makes bloodshed sacred”[20]. Journalist and radio host David Mizrahy Verthaim was quoted as saying: “We need a disproportionate response… If all the captives are not returned immediately, turn the strip into a slaughterhouse. If a hair falls from their head, execute the security prisoners. Violate any norm, on the way to victory”[21]. Singer Eyal Golan was quoted as saying: “We must raze Gaza to the ground and leave no survivors there”[22].

All these statements leave no room for doubt about the existence of genocidal intentions. In the Guardian, journalist Chris McGreal refers to the language used to describe the Palestinians as genocidal[23].

Journalist Raz Segal even considers it a textbook case of genocide[24].

UN special envoy Riyad Mansour has accused Israel of waging a genocidal campaign against Gaza[25].

Several UN-mandated experts believe that Israel runs the risk of being accused of genocide: “We remain convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide”. [26]

A senior official at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Craig Mokhiber, resigned in protest at the UN’s “failure” to prevent what he called “genocide” of Palestinian civilians.”[27]


A human collectivity is targeted. The Gazans are a component of the Palestinian people, the other components being the Palestinians of the West Bank, those inside Israel and the diaspora (refugees, exiles) dispersed throughout the world since the Nakba of 1948.

The explicit declarations of the Israeli government (Herzog, Netanyahu, Kallner, Eiland, Alian, Gvir and Gamliel) are expressions of intent that correspond to genocidal actions carried out in Gaza. They clearly state: “We are attacking the Palestinian civilian population in order to undermine its existence.” They represent evidence that would lead to Israel being condemned by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. But Israel remains outside the jurisdiction of this court. The impunity enjoyed by Israel’s leaders is undoubtedly what enables them to go even further in their excesses. Be that as it may, the openly expressed intentions help to bolster the case that Israel is in fact committing genocide.






[6] Robin Philpot, Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa: From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction, Montréal, Baraka Books, 2013.




[10] William Schabas, Genocide in international law, Cambridge University Press, 2009, chapter 5.









[19] ; voir aussi ,