‘Open-Air Panopticon’: UN Special Rapporteur Accuses Israel of Imprisoning Entire ‘Occupied Territory’

‘Open-Air Panopticon’: UN Special Rapporteur Accuses Israel of Imprisoning Entire ‘Occupied Territory’
Francesca Albanese

UN’s Special Rapporteur for “Palestine” Francesca Albanese issues report alleging all of Judea and Samaria and Gaza is an open-air prison for Palestinians.

By Andrew Bernard, The Algemeiner

The UN’s Special Rapporteur for “Palestine” on Monday issued a report alleging that all of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza is now an open-air prison.

Citing the work of French postmodernist philosopher Michel Foucault, Francesca Albanese’s report says that “the Israeli regime has turned the occupied territory into a ‘panopticon.’”

“Israel’s military occupation has morphed the entire occupied Palestinian territory into an open-air prison, where Palestinians are constantly confined, surveilled and disciplined,” Albanese said in a statement accompanying the report. “Mass incarceration serves the purpose of quelling peaceful opposition against the occupation, protecting the Israeli military and settlers, and ultimately facilitating settler-colonial encroachment.”

While the press release refers to “peaceful” opposition to Israel, the report asserts that Palestinians have “the right to resist an illegal foreign occupier.”

“Israel’s occupation has been a tool of settler colonial conquest also through intensifying methods of confinement against an entire people who – as any people would – continuously rebel against their prison wardens,” the report’s summary says.

The 21-page report was based on Albanese’s six-month “remote investigation” of the situation as she was “unable to visit the occupied Palestinian territory…due to Israel’s continued refusal to facilitate her entry.”

Albanese has faced widespread criticism from Israel and from US elected officials for her repeated claims connecting Palestinian violence with a “right to resist” Israel. In a 2022 speech to a conference in Gaza organized by Hamas, she told attendees, “you have a right to resist this occupation.” She made similar comments during a round of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza later that year. “An unlawful act of resistance does not make the resistance unlawful,” she said.

Monday’s report repeats Albanese’s past assertions that Israel maintains a “racial” “settler-colonial apartheid regime.” The report does not accuse Israel of genocide, but does call on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to examine whether Israel is attempting to destroy Palestinians as a national group.

“The likelihood of these offenses being cumulatively committed as part of a policy of ‘dePalestinization’ of the occupied territory and of a plan to incrementally annex it must be urgently investigated: such a plan would threaten the right of an entire people to exist as a national group, challenging the very foundations of the international legal order,” the report says.

The International Legal Forum (ILF), a global network of pro-Israel lawyers, condemned Albanese’s report on Monday as another example of what it says are her repeated use of antisemitic tropes, distortions of the Holocaust, and defenses of Palestinian violence.

“It is telling that in her 10,700-word report, not once does she even refer to Palestinian terror, however she makes one absurd, baseless and antisemitic accusation after another, such as calling Israel a ‘settler-colonial apartheid regime’, creating an ‘open-air panopticon’ and even invents new terms altogether, such as accusing Israel of conducting ‘de-Palestinization’ of purported Palestinian territory,” ILF said in a statement. “Ms. Albanese’s anti-Israel hatred is so visceral, that she even twistedly suggests that Israel’s efforts at facilitating Palestinian self-rule, has added ‘a layer of oppression’.”

While Albanese’s report does refer to Israeli concerns about security and terrorism, it repeatedly does so in ironic quotation marks.

“Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Law of 2016 further expanded the broad grounds to designate Palestinian groups as ‘terrorist organizations’, on the basis of vaguely defined conduct, or mere intentions, labeled as ‘terrorist acts,’” the report says of Israel’s list of 411 designated terrorist entities, which includes groups like Hamas, al-Qaeda, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

The report also extensively cites the work of groups that Israel alleges are fronts for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, and others.

The report further describes it as “astounding” that Khader Adnan, a senior leader in PIJ, was detained 12 times in eight years before his death during a hunger strike in May. The report describes his detention as “arbitrary” but does not mention his affiliation with PIJ or his indictment in February. Upon his death, PIJ described Adnan as a martyr and “Sheikh hero Khader Adnan.”

A bipartisan group of US Congressional Representatives and Senators have repeatedly called for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to dismiss Albanese for her “unpardonable bias” against Israel and her “outrageous” antisemitic comments.

“Failure to take meaningful action on repeated instances of antisemitism by UN officials undermines the UN’s credibility,” a January Congressional letter to Guterres said. “We urge you to demonstrate that the UN is capable of genuinely addressing antisemitism by removing Ms. Albanese from her post.”

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The post ‘Open-Air Panopticon’: UN Special Rapporteur Accuses Israel of Imprisoning Entire ‘Occupied Territory’ first appeared on United with Israel.
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