UN puts Israel on 'blacklist' of countries that harm children in conflict | Gaza News

The United Nations has placed Israel on the so-called “black list” of countries that have committed child abuse in armed conflicts, an Israeli diplomat confirmed. Thousands of Palestinian children have been killed by the ongoing Israeli military attack on the Gaza Strip.

In a social media post on Friday, Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said he had received official notification of the decision from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“This is simply outrageous and wrong,” Erdan wrote, adding a video of himself speaking into a phone and condemning the move.

“I reacted to the shameful decision and said that our army is the most moral in the world. The only one on the blacklist is the Secretary General, who promotes and encourages terrorism and is motivated by hatred of Israel.”

Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric commented on Erdan's comments later in the day, saying that a UN official had called the Israeli envoy “to act as a courtesy to countries newly listed in the annex” of the annual report “Children and Armed Conflict.”

“This is done to warn these countries and avoid leaks,” Dujarric told reporters, adding that the report would be presented to the UN Security Council on June 14 and officially released a few days later.

“Ambassador Erdan’s video recording of this phone call and the partial posting of that recording on Twitter are shocking and unacceptable – and frankly something I have never experienced in the 24 years I have served this organization,” Dujarric said.

Palestinian Authority welcomes decision

The annual report on children and armed conflict contains “a list of parties guilty of abuses against children,” including killing and maiming, sexual violence, and attacks on schools and hospitals.

Guterres was criticized by Palestinian human rights activists for not putting Israel on the so-called list of shame, which also includes Russia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Syria and Haiti.

The blacklist is intended to identify perpetrators of child abuse, but other countries can use it to restrict the sale of weapons to the perpetrators.

Senior Palestinian official Riad Malki welcomed the UN decision on Friday and said the move was long overdue.

“In the face of the catastrophe in Gaza, which the world is witnessing with its naked eyes, and which particularly involves the genocide of children and women, the UN Secretary-General has no more excuses not to blacklist Israel,” Malki said in a statement.

Human rights groups have condemned the horrific consequences of Israel's bombing and siege of Gaza for Palestinian children throughout the enclave.

According to the government media office in the Gaza Strip, more than 36,700 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks since the beginning of October, including 15,571 children.

UN experts also said Israel's restrictions on the supply of food, water, medicine and other essential goods had triggered a humanitarian crisis and that parts of the coastal area were at risk of famine.

Earlier this week, the UN children's rights agency UNICEF said nine out of 10 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip were living in “severe food poverty, having to survive on a diet consisting of two or fewer food groups per day – one of the highest percentages ever recorded”.

By comparison, in 2020, according to UNICEF, only 13 percent of children in the Gaza Strip lived in severe food poverty.

The World Health Organization also said last week, ahead of a survey on food insecurity, that more than four out of five Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip had “gone without eating for an entire day at least once in three days.”

Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) also reported on the devastating impact of Israel's ongoing military assault on Gaza on Palestinian children, thousands of whom have been seriously injured since October.

The collapse of the health system in the Gaza Strip has resulted in many patients, including children, not receiving the care they need, the group said.

“Palestinian children who survive Israeli attacks face lifelong physical and psychological trauma,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, director of DCIP’s accountability program, said in a statement on Wednesday.

In a testimonial collected by DCIP, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy named Mohammad described his difficult road to recovery after being shot in the back by an Israeli quadcopter in March.

His lower body is now paralyzed.

“I spend most of my time on a mattress, lying on my back. I also suffer from ulcers that I get from sitting for long periods of time, which have not healed yet. The medicines for these wounds and the painkillers are expensive and my father cannot always afford them,” Mohammad told DCIP.

“I used to enjoy playing football because I was always on the field as a goalkeeper,” he said. “I also enjoyed repairing watches and electrical appliances, but now I can't do that anymore because of my disability.”

In January, Save the Children reported that more than ten children lose limbs every day in Gaza.

But Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz sharply criticized the UN decision on Friday, calling it “shameful.”

“The [Israeli military] is the most moral army in the world – and no fabricated report will change that. This step will have consequences for Israel's relations with the United Nations,” Katz said in a social media post.