UN will describe Israel and Hamas as violating children’s rights in conflict

7 June 2024, 21:34

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United Nations Climate Warning. Picture: PA

Israel reacted with outrage.

In an upcoming report to the UN Security Council, the secretary-general of the world body plans to list both Israel and Hamas as waging a war that violates the rights and protection of children.

The preface of last year’s report says it lists parties engaged in “the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against children, attacks on schools, hospitals and protected persons”.

The head of Antonio Guterres’ office called Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, on Friday to inform him that Israel would be in the report when it is sent to the council next week, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad also will be listed.

Israel reacted with outrage, sending news organisations a video of Mr Erdan berating the head of Mr Guterres’ office, supposedly on the other end of a phone call.

“Hamas will continue even more to use schools and hospitals because this shameful decision of the Secretary-General will only give Hamas hope to survive and extend the war and extend the suffering,” Mr Erdan wrote in a statement. “Shame on him!”

The move heightened a long-running feud between Israel and the UN, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying: “The UN put itself on the black list of history today.”

Condemnation of the secretary-general’s decision appeared to bring together Israel’s increasingly fractious leadership — from the right-wing Mr Netanyahu and Mr Erdan to the popular centrist member of the war cabinet, Benny Gantz.

Mr Gantz cited Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, as saying “it matter not what say the goyim (non-Jews), what is important is what do the Jews.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian UN ambassador said that adding Israel to the “list of shame will not bring back tens of thousands of our children who were killed by Israel over decades”.

“But it is an important step in the right direction,” Riyad Mansour wrote in a statement.

Israel faces heavy international criticism over civilian casualties in Gaza and questions about whether it has done enough to prevent them in an eight-month-old war. Two recent airstrikes in Gaza killed dozens of civilians.

UN agencies warned on Wednesday that more than one million Palestinians in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by the middle of next month if hostilities continue.

The World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation said in a joint report that hunger is worsening because of heavy restrictions on humanitarian access and the collapse of the local food system in the eight-month Israel-Hamas war.

The proportion of Palestinian women and children being killed in the Israel-Hamas war appears to have declined sharply, an Associated Press analysis of Gaza Health Ministry data has found, a trend that both coincides with Israel’s changing battlefield tactics and contradicts the ministry’s own public statements.

The trend is significant because the death rate for women and children is the best available proxy for civilian casualties in one of the 21st century’s most destructive conflicts. In October, when the war began, it was above 60%. For the month of April, it was below 40%.

Yet the shift went unnoticed for months by the UN and much of the media, and the Hamas-linked Health Ministry has made no effort to set the record straight.

By Press Association

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