Israel 'disgusted' at inclusion on new UN human rights blacklist

General |Author: AFP | June 8, 2024, Saturday @ 16:51| 1715 views

Children ride with belongings atop a donkey-drawn cart moving with other displaced people fleeing from the eastern parts of Deir el-Balah to the city centre in the central Gaza Strip on June 8, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The upcoming inclusion of Israel on a UN list of countries and armed forces determined to be failing to protect children in war prompted a furious Israeli response Friday.

The annual "Children and Armed Conflict" report from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is not due to be published until June 18, but Israel's UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, spoke out after receiving private notification of the inclusion.

"I am utterly shocked and disgusted by this shameful decision," Erdan said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on his X social media account that the UN "put itself today on history's blacklist when it adopted the absurd claims of Hamas."

"The IDF is the most moral military in the world and no 'flat earth' decision by the UN secretary-general can change that," he wrote, referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said adding Israel to the "list of shame" would not restore the lives of children killed or left permanently disabled in Israeli military attacks.

"But it is an important step in the right direction towards ending the double standards and the culture of impunity Israel has enjoyed for far too long and that left our children vulnerable," he said on X.

A diplomatic source told AFP that Hamas and another Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad, would also appear on the list.

Erdan lashed out at Guterres personally, saying: "The only one who is blacklisted today is the secretary-general."

"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.

- 'Long overdue' -

Gaza is suffering through a war which broke out after Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,731 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry. Of those, some 15,000 have been minors, according to Gaza's government press office.

Israel has also delayed the entry of aid into Gaza, depriving the territory's 2.4 million people of clean water, food, medicines and fuel.

Last week, the World Health Organization said that more than four in five children had gone a whole day without eating at least once in 72 hours.

According to the Hamas government media office, at least 32 people, many of them children, have died of malnutrition in Gaza since the war began.

Much of the violence is occurring in built-up areas, packed with fleeing Palestinians and, according to the Israeli military, being used at the same time by Hamas forces.

In one of the bloodiest recent single incidents, the Israeli army says it killed 17 militants with an air strike on a UN-run school in Gaza on Thursday. The nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital said that at least 37 people were killed in the strike.

The UN report highlights human rights violations against children in around 20 conflict zones. Last year, Russia's military and armed entities linked to Russia were included on the list.

Rights groups have long pushed for Israel's inclusion and in 2022, the United Nations issued a warning that Israel would need to show improvements in order not to be added.

In last year's report, the UN noted improvements in the situation between 2021 and 2022, with a "meaningful" drop in deaths of children in Israeli strikes.

Louis Charbonneau, from Human Rights Watch, called Israel's inclusion "thoroughly justified, albeit long overdue."

"It's something we've long called for, along with listing Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups."

© Agence France-Presse


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