A UN human rights expert appeared on The project Tuesday evening, where she faced a question from Waleed Aly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Francesca Albanese, a lawyer and special rapporteur – that is, independent expert – on Palestine, sparked controversy over her views on Israel’s actions last week.
The Israeli military claims to have discovered a Hamas hideout in the basement of Gaza City’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, and has since launched a targeted operation at the site.
But doctors and chief medical staff at the hospital deny the claims and have shown plans that they say prove there is no clandestine Hamas headquarters.
There are fears that the already dire humanitarian situation at the hospital could deteriorate further.
While discussing the latest events with The Project panel, Ms Albanese was asked by Aly how she thought the current conflict should have been handled by Israel.
“Israel was always going to respond to the October 7 attacks. What do you think the correct answer would have looked like? “, he asked.
The expert then seemed to surprise Aly by suggesting that it was up to the UN to enter Gaza to “demilitarize” Hamas, not Israel.
“He could have counted on the United Nations to demilitarize Hamas if it was its target,” she insisted. “They claimed the right to self-defense and Article 51. We are talking about the people that Israel occupies and has occupied for 56 years now.”
Waleed intervened and questioned the expert on his comments.
He asked: “To be clear, are you saying that Israel should have asked the United Nations to send its own force to demilitarize Gaza and remove Hamas’ military capability and that the United Nations would have undertaken this task ?
“Well, look, there have been other cases, especially in Europe,” she explained. “I cite the case of the Bataclan. This is the largest attack since World War II. At the origin of a terrorist group in Belgium. Did France resort to bombing entire civilian neighborhoods in Belgium? No.”
She continued: “I mean, you have a legitimate question: Would the United Nations have agreed? This was never requested, but it would have been the case, because it is the responsibility of the UN to ensure the maintenance of peace and security and the UN also manages peacekeeping operations , something people like me have been asking for decades.”
The lawyer went on to condemn the Hamas attack on October 7, but noted that the horrific incident would have been entirely “preventable” if the “international community” had held Israel to account over its “violations of international law.”
“The October 7 attack is tragic, resulting in war crimes by Hamas against Israeli civilians. This was avoidable. This could have been avoided,” Albanese added. This should have been avoided and it did not happen, and also because of the attitude of the international community which gave Israel carte blanche to continue its violations of international law against the Palestinian people.”