A U.N. official argued Saturday that Israel does not have a right to self-defense against Hamas under international law.
Francesca Albanese, who serves as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights's special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories, argued on X Saturday that "self-defense" has a narrow meaning under Article 51 of the U.N. charter. That definition, she said, does not give the Jewish state the right to self-defense against Hamas because the threat stems from an armed group within "occupied territory" and not "another state." Thus, "under Int'l Law Israel's actions in Gaza cannot qualify as self-defense," Albanese said.
"Under Art 51, use of force in #SelfDefense is permissible solely to repel an armed attack by another State," Albanese said. "Threats from armed groups from within occ. territory give state the RIGHT TO PROTECT ITSELF, but not to wage war against the state from which the armed group emanates."
Albanese has also said that Israel's actions in Gaza are "criminal."
"The attacks are clearly indiscriminate, disproportionate and violate the principle of precaution," she said in an interview with the Guardian published Tuesday. "One cannot bomb hospitals hosting hundreds of patients and sheltering thousands of refugees. Sorry, we need to look for another solution, and not to bomb hospitals. Absolutely not. This is criminal."
The day after Hamas's Oct. 7 attack that killed more than 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, Albanese said she was "horrified by the narrative" that focused outrage on Hamas for the attack. She also condemned Israel's "militarized settler colonial occupation" and violence against "defenseless Palestinians."
A spokesman for Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Albanese's comments are not representative of the U.N.'s position.
"The Special Rapporteur is independent and makes her own assessment," the spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon. "Israel has legitimate security interests, in respect of which all measures taken must comply with international law, we therefore focus on conduct of hostilities and compliance with International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law."
Albanese is not the only U.N. official to make controversial comments about Israel's war on Hamas. Secretary General Antonio Guterres drew condemnation from members of the Israeli government late last month for claiming that Hamas's Oct. 7 attacks on Israel "did not happen in a vacuum," adding that Palestinians have been "subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation."