Politics & News

UN to Blacklist Israel, Hamas for Violations against Children

The United Nations (UN) has added Israel to the global list of states and armed groups that have committed violations against children in 2023.

In addition, the list will include Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, CNN reported citing a diplomatic source speaking on condition of anonymity. The decision came after 8 months of war in Gaza, which has claimed the lives of more than 36,000 Palestinians.

Israeli Anger

Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said he was officially notified of the decision on Friday, describing it as “shameful.” He recorded a video of himself while making a phone call, apparently with a UN official, and shared part of it on social media.

In the video, Erdan called the Israeli military “the most moral army in the world,” expressing anger at the UN decision. He said: “The only one who is blacklisted today is the secretary-general, whose decisions since the war started, and even before, are rewarding terrorists and incentivizing them to use children for terror acts… Shame on him!”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a statement saying that the UN had “added itself to the black list of history when it joined those who support the Hamas murderers.” Furthermore, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, said that the decision “will have consequences for Israel’s relations with the UN,” reported Reuters.

UN Confirmation

The UN Secretary-General spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, confirmed in a press briefing Friday that Antonio Guterres has added Israel to the list in the secretary-general’s annual report on children and armed conflict.

UN to Blacklist Israel, Hamas for Violations against Children
Palestinian children in Gaza

Guterres will submit the report to the UN Security Council on June 14. The UN will publish the official report on June 18, and discuss it at a debate in the UNSC on June 28.

According to Dujarric, Guterres’ chief of staff called Israel’s UN mission on Friday to give it “a heads-up and avoid leaks.” Commenting on Erdan’s publishing of the private call, Dujarric said it was “shocking and unacceptable, frankly something I’ve never seen in my 24 years serving this organization.”

Violations against Children

The list covers 6 violations against children: killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, recruitment and use of children, denial of aid access and attacks of schools and hospitals. Yet, it was not immediately clear for which violations was Israel or Hamas listed.

According to the UN, the war in Gaza claimed the lives of at least 7,797 children. It cited Gaza’s Ministry of Health data on identified bodies. However, the Gaza government media office puts the total number at 15,500.

Meanwhile, Israel’s National Council for the Child says 38 children have lost their lives in the October 7 attack, which took 42 others as hostages in Gaza. All but two children have returned.

The UN list consists of two sections: parties that have put in place measures to protect children and parties that have not. Erdan said Israel is on the list of parties that had not taken adequate measures to protect children.

Important Step

The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, reacted to the UN decision. He said that it “will not bring back tens of thousands of our children who were killed by Israel over decades and will not restore normal life for the children who were permanently disabled by its actions.”

However, “it is an important step in the right direction towards ending the double standards and the culture of impunity Israel has enjoyed for far too long and that left our children vulnerable to its consequences,” he added.

UN to Blacklist Israel, Hamas for Violations against Children
Children in Gaza

Similarly, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said this move was “a step in the right direction towards holding Israel accountable for its crimes.”

Potential Ramifications

In regards to the decision implications, the UN spokesperson said it will be up to the UNSC members to decide any action.

The director of the human rights group, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, Ezequiel Heffes, told the Guardian that once the report includes a state or group for committing violations, the UN has to engage with the parties, and those parties have to “take actions that may serve to prevent future violations.”

Heffes added that the UN has been seeking to persuade the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups to mitigate harm for children. “This is a big deal because this is a framework that is created to protect children from the effects of armed conflict,” he said.

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