After much pressure from both sides, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has decided not to include Israel in the international body’s list of children’s rights violators.
According to watchlist.org, bodies guilty of recruitment and use of child soldiers, killing and maiming of children, rape or other grave sexual violence against children, and attacks on schools and hospitals during armed conflict are included in the UN “List of Shame”. The UN then mandates concrete steps taken to rectify the violations before the country in question can be removed from the list.
In recent weeks, Ban has been pressured by various NGOs to add Israel to that list, on account of the high number of child casualties in Gaza during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui of Algeria, also recommended Israel’s inclusion.
UN agencies, however, were divided on the issue, according to Haaretz. The final decision was left to the Secretary-General, who was pressured by both Israel and the US not to include the Jewish State.
Despite leaving Israel off the blacklist, Ban had sharp words for its policies in both Gaza and Judea and Samaria.
“The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of the impact on children in 2014 raises grave concerns about Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law, notably the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack, and respect for international human rights law, particularly in relation to excessive use of force,” Ban said in his report, as quoted by IsraelNationalNews.
I urge Israel to take concrete and immediate steps, including by reviewing existing policies and practices, to protect children, to prevent the killing and maiming of children, and to respect the special protections afforded to schools and hospitals.
“An essential measure in this regard is ensuring accountability for perpetrators of alleged violations,” the Secretary-General added. “I further urge Israel to engage in a dialogue with my special representative and the United Nations to ensure that there is no recurrence in grave violations against children.”
Some 500 children were killed in the conflict in Gaza last summer, which Israel attributes to Hamas’s cynical policy of placing its terror infrastructure among civilians. The UN itself acknowledged that Hamas rockets were found in some of its buildings in Gaza during the 50-day war. In one case, the UN returned the rockets uncovered in its facility to Hamas.
Despite the lukewarm offering from Ban, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision.
Ban “was right not to submit to the dictates of the terrorist organizations and the Arab states, in his decision not to include Israel in this shameful list, together with organizations like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” Prosor said.