An international coalition advocating for children in conflict zones on Tuesday asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to add the Israeli army to a blacklist of government forces and rebel groups that have committed “grave violations” against children.
In its March 2018 Policy Note, released Tuesday, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict proposed the Israel Defense Forces be added to the upcoming 2018 Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.
They were seeking to include the Israeli military alongside security forces in Myanmar who are reported to have killed, burned, and beaten to death Rohingya Muslim children in an ethnic cleansing campaign; Afghan security forces who have killed and raped children and attacked schools and hospitals; several rebel groups in the Central African Republic; Congo’s national police force; a rebel group in Mali; and the main opposition force in South Sudan.
Watchlist said its recommendations were drawn up after a “desk review” of all publicly available reports related to violations against children in 25 countries in 2017. Sources included the UN secretary-general’s 2017 annual report on children and armed conflict, as well as reports by UN agencies, member state governments, and international NGOs.
The organization focused on recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and on hospitals.
In a section entitled “Israel and the State of Palestine,” Watchlist pointed to UN figures on the killing and wounding of Palestinian children by soldiers during clashes in 2017.
It cited dozens of injuries from tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition and 13 youngsters killed by mid-August 2017 in protests and clashes in the West Bank and near the fence that divides Israel and Gaza. Among the child casualties it listed were minors who had tried to stab Israeli civilians or soldiers.
Watchlist’s UN Advocacy Officer Dragica Mikavica said the blacklist was “an indispensable tool for stopping heinous crimes against children — but it can only remain credible if it lists all the guilty parties.”
She said the decision to include the IDF but not the Hamas terrorist organization, which rules Gaza, was because the former was mentioned in Guterres’ 2017 report.
Last year’s report, the first by Guterres, who succeeded Ban, was delayed until October. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the 2018 report was “on track to be on schedule, probably in late June.”