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UN chief to call out Israel, Hamas for violations against children

It covers six violations - killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, recruitment and use of children, denial of aid access and attacks of schools and hospitals. It was not immediately clear what violations Israel, Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad had been listed for.
Last Updated : 08 June 2024, 03:03 IST
Last Updated : 08 June 2024, 03:03 IST

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has added Israel's military to a global list of offenders for committing violations against children in 2023, said Israel's U.N. envoy Gilad Erdan, describing the decision as "shameful."

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will also be listed, said a diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Erdan said he was officially notified of the decision on Friday. The global list is included in a report on children and armed conflict that Guterres is due to submit to the U.N. Security Council on June 14.

It covers six violations - killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, recruitment and use of children, denial of aid access and attacks of schools and hospitals. It was not immediately clear what violations Israel, Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad had been listed for.

Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the decision "will have consequences for Israel's relations with the U.N." Israel has long had contentious relationship with the U.N. that has only worsened during the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

The U.N. said last month that at least 7,797 children have been killed in Hamas-ruled Gaza during the eight-month-long war, citing data on identified bodies from Gaza's Ministry of Health, which the U.N. considers reliable. The Gaza government media office says in total some 15,500 children have been killed.

According to Israel's National Council for the Child, 38 children were killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack that sparked the war and 42 of some 250 people taken hostage into Gaza on Oct. 7 were children. All but two children have been released.

'Shocking'

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Guterres' chief of staff called Erdan on Friday as "courtesy afforded to countries that are newly listed on the annex of the report." Erdan posted a video on social media of him responding during the phone call.

"I am utterly shocked and disgusted by this shameful decision of the Secretary-General," said Erdan. "Israel's army is the most moral army in the world, so this immoral decision will only aid the terrorists and reward Hamas."

Dujarric described the video and its partial release as "shocking and unacceptable and frankly something I've never seen in my 24 years serving this organization."

The report is compiled by Virginia Gamba, Guterres' special representative for children and armed conflict. The list attached to the report aims to shame parties to conflicts in the hope of pushing them to implement measures to protect children.

The list is split into two: parties that have put in place measures to protect children and parties that have not. Erdan said he was told Israel had been included on the list of parties that had not put in place adequate measures to protect children.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the U.N. had "added itself to the black list of history when it joined those who support the Hamas murderers."

Accountability

Israel is retaliating against Hamas over an Oct. 7 attack by its militants. More than 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, according to Israeli tallies. More than 100 hostages are believed to remain captive in Gaza.

Israel's invasion and bombardment of Gaza since then has killed at least 36,731 people, including 77 in the past 24 hours, Gaza's health ministry said in an update on Friday. Thousands more are feared buried dead under rubble, with most of the 2.3 million population displaced.

A spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the U.N. decision was "a step in the right direction towards holding Israel accountable for its crimes" and that Israel should have been added long ago.

The move comes nine years after the U.N. special envoy for children and armed conflict recommended Israel and Hamas be added to the list for violations during a 2014 war in Gaza, when 540 children were among more than 2,100 Palestinians killed.

Israel lobbied then U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon hard to stay off the list, though it denied pressuring him. Ultimately, Ban did not add Israel or Hamas to the list of offenders, though the report did strongly criticize Israel over the 50-day conflict.

Russia's armed forces were added to the list last year for killing and maiming children in Ukraine, attacks on schools and hospitals and using children as human shields. Russia has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

A Saudi-led military coalition - listed for killing and injuring children in Yemen - was removed from the list in 2020, several years after it was first named for killing and injuring children in Yemen.

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Published 08 June 2024, 03:03 IST

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