UN urged to add IDF to list of child rights violators
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UN urged to add IDF to list of child rights violators

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict says Israeli military among those responsible for grave violations against youngsters

Palestinian children pose for a photo on top of cement blocks placed by the Israeli army in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, on October 21, 2015. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90
Palestinian children pose for a photo on top of cement blocks placed by the Israeli army in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, on October 21, 2015. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90

A network of organizations seeking to protect children in conflict is urging UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to add 11 parties to the blacklist of countries and armed groups responsible for grave violations against youngsters, including the Israeli military.

The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict’s recommended additions released Wednesday include the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen that was taken off last year’s list by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the Saudis and their supporters threatened to stop funding many UN programs.

The Watchlist also called for the addition of the Israel Defense Forces, which were kept off the 2015 list after lobbying by the United States and the Israeli government.

The group recommended that Guterres determine whether the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and 11 other groups should also be included.

In its report, the group’s section on Israeli offenses is approximately nine pages, most of them focused on the 2014 Gaza War, where some 2,000 Palestinians were killed in the 51-day summer conflict, at least have of them combatants, according to Israel. Palestinians dispute that figures, arguing that some 70 percent of those killed were civilians.

The section in the report on Syria, where the raging civil war has claimed over 400,000 lives, including those of tens of thousands of children, is two pages long.

The report’s section on Israel also omits context from the wave of violence that began in late September 2015 and continued for over a year, decreasing in intensity in recent weeks, where Palestinian assailants launched near-daily stabbing, shooting or car-ramming attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank and across Israel. The report does not mention that most of the attackers were Palestinians, referencing only “an upsurge in violence started in mid-September 2015 and continued into 2016…resulting in a total of 232 Palestinians killed, including 52 children, and over 5,774 seriously injured, while 32 Israelis were killed and 356 seriously injured.”

Since October 2015, 40 Israelis, two Americans, a Palestinian and an Eritrean national have been killed in these attacks. According to AFP figures, some 250 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant have also been killed, most of them in the course of carrying out attacks, Israel says, and many of the others in clashes with troops in the West Bank and at the Gaza border, as well as in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

The UN chief’s annual report on children and armed conflict, which contains the blacklist, is usually released in May or June.

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