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UN Adds Israel to ‘Blacklist’ of Countries Harming Children in Conflict

June 8, 2024

The United Nations has added Israel to its “blacklist” of countries accused of committing abuses against children in armed conflict. This decision follows the deaths of over 15,500 Palestinian children in the ongoing Gaza conflict, contributing to widespread malnutrition among the population.

On Friday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan confirmed that he had received official notification of this decision from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “This is simply outrageous and wrong,” Erdan stated in a social media post, alongside a video where he condemned the move. “I responded to the shameful decision and said that our army is the most moral in the world. The only one being blacklisted is the Secretary-General who incentivizes and encourages terrorism and is motivated by hatred towards Israel.”

Later, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric explained that the notification was a standard courtesy extended to countries newly listed in the annual “Children in Armed Conflict” report to prevent leaks. “It is done to give those countries a heads-up and avoid leaks,” Dujarric said, noting that the report would be presented to the UN Security Council on 14 June and published shortly thereafter.

“Ambassador Erdan’s video recording of that phone call, and the partial release of that recording on Twitter, is shocking and unacceptable – and frankly something I’ve never seen in my 24 years serving this organisation,” Dujarric added.

The Palestinian Authority has welcomed the decision, which highlights violations including killing and maiming, sexual violence, and attacks on schools and hospitals. According to the Gaza government media office, more than 36,700 Palestinians have been killed since early October, including 15,571 children.

UN experts have pointed out that Israel’s restrictions on food, water, medicine, and other critical supplies have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, pushing parts of Gaza towards famine. Earlier this week, UNICEF reported that nine in 10 Palestinian children in Gaza were living in severe child food poverty, a significant increase from 13 percent in 2020.

The World Health Organization also reported that over four in five Palestinian children in Gaza had not eaten for an entire day at least once in the three days preceding a recent food insecurity survey.

Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) has documented the dire impact of the conflict on children, including thousands who have been critically injured. The collapse of Gaza’s healthcare system has left many without necessary care. “Palestinian children who survive Israeli attacks face a lifetime of recovery to heal from the physical and psychological trauma,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCIP’s accountability programme director.

In one account, 15-year-old Mohammad, who was shot in the back by an Israeli quadcopter in March, described his struggle with paralysis and the unaffordable cost of his medication. “I spend most of my time on a mattress, lying on my back. Also, I suffer from ulcers due to prolonged sitting, and have not healed yet. The medicine for these wounds and painkillers are expensive and my father cannot always afford them,” Mohammad told DCIP.

“I used to love playing football, as I always stood as a goalkeeper,” he added. “I also loved repairing watches and electrical appliances, but now I cannot do that due to my disability.”

In January, Save the Children reported that more than 10 children in Gaza lose limbs daily due to the conflict.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemned the UN’s decision, calling it “shameful.” “The [Israeli military] 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,” Katz said in a social media post.

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