Believed to be first democratic country included on list

Israel livid as it’s added to UN ‘list of shame’ for wartime children’s rights violations

Israel put on list for first time, alongside Hamas, Islamic Jihad; PM slams delusional’ move; Jerusalem defends ‘most moral army in world,’ says decision will impact ties with UN

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in a photo approved for publication on June 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in a photo approved for publication on June 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been added to the United Nations’ so-called “list of shame,” which is attached to an annual report released by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office that documents alleged rights violations against children in armed conflict, sparking outrage in Jerusalem.

This is the first time that Israel and Hamas have been included on this list, joining the ranks of Russia, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Israel is believed to be the first democratic country included on the list. Last year, Russia was added to the list for the first time over its treatment of children in the war against Ukraine.

The report will not be released until next Friday, but Guterres’s office called Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan on Friday to formally inform him of the decision to include Israel in it. The UN Security Council will hold a hearing on June 26 to discuss the report.

Previous reports included chapters on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which accused Israel of grave rights violations against children. However, Israel was never included in the annex at the end of the report of “listed parties that have not put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children.” This annex is what has become known as the blacklist or “list of shame.”

The decision has set off alarm bells in Jerusalem, given that the report is regularly cited by UN officials and will likely be used to further taint Israel’s image in the international community.

The practical implications of Israel’s inclusion include the establishment of a “monitoring and reporting mechanism” by the office of Guterres’s special representative for children and armed conflict Virginia Gamba, the Argentinian diplomat who compiled the report. The MRM will be responsible for holding talks with Israeli officials, setting benchmarks for them to meet to ensure that alleged rights abuses against children are being addressed and providing progress reports to the Security Council.

United Nation’s special representative for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, speaks during a press conference, in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, her first visit to the country. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Parts of the draft leaked to the press include allegations that Israel carried out war crimes that specifically harmed children.

Roughly 8,000 children have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. That figure has not been independently verified and dropped overnight by roughly 6,500 last month, leading to further questions regarding the veracity of the data received from Hamas authorities, which was also used in the UN report on children and armed conflict.

The leaked draft also accuses Israel of using large-scale bombs in highly crowded areas that led to the deaths of children, imposing a siege on Gaza that has prevented aid from reaching children and targeting critical infrastructure that has had detrimental health effects on children.

The draft of the report also highlights repeated settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, including children, which have gone almost entirely unpunished by Israeli authorities and have led to sanctions by the US and countries around the world.

Israeli security forces are also accused of recruiting Palestinian minors as informants — a charge Israel denies along with another claim in the report that it uses Palestinian children as human shields while operating in Gaza and the West Bank.

In the section on Palestinian terror groups, who have also been included on the “list of shame,” the leaked draft highlights some of the atrocities committed against children during the Hamas-led October 7 terror onslaught.

Jerusalem fumed over its inclusion on the blacklist with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying, “The UN has put itself on the blacklist of history today when it joined the supporters of the Hamas murderers. The IDF is the most moral army in the world and no delusional decision by the UN will change that.”

The Israeli Mission to the UN filmed Erdan receiving the formal notification on Friday from Guterres’s chief of staff.

“You know that Israel’s army is the most moral army in the world. This immoral decision will only aid the terrorists and reward Hamas. The only one who is blacklisted today is the secretary-general whose decisions since the war started and even before are rewarding terrorists, incentivizing them to use children for terror acts,” the Israeli envoy said.

“Now 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 will only extend the war, and extend the suffering. Shame on him,” Erdan declared.

“I am utterly shocked and disgusted by this shameful decision,” Erdan added in a statement. “Now Hamas will continue even more to use schools and hospitals because this shameful decision of the secretary-general will only give Hamas hope,” he said.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the decision  “will have consequences for Israel’s relations with the UN.”

“The shameful decision by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to include the IDF in the blacklist is an act of villainy,” Katz wrote on X.

“Guterres, who stood for a minute of silence in memory of Iran’s president who executed tens of thousands of innocents, will be remembered in history as an antisemitic secretary-general who chose to ignore Hamas’s sexual crimes and Israel’s right to self-defense,” Katz said. “The IDF is the most moral army in the world — and no fictitious report will change that. This step will have consequences for Israel’s relations with the UN.”

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