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PA, NGOs angered after UN doesn’t single out Israel for violating children’s rights

Annual U.N. report on Children in Armed Conflict calls to investigate the deaths of Palestinian children in 2018, but doesn’t explicitly condemn Israel. Palestinian U.N. envoy: omission “undercuts efforts to put an end to the criminal violations against children around the world.”

The row of flags of member countries of the United Nations in front of the U.N. General Assembly building in New York. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
The row of flags of member countries of the United Nations in front of the U.N. General Assembly building in New York. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Top Palestinian officials and several pro-Palestinian groups leveled harsh criticism at the United Nations over the weekend after the latest report by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on children and armed conflicts failed to single out Israel for condemnation.

According to a report by The Jewish Press, the U.N. chief called for an investigation into the deaths of 59 Palestinian children in 2018, but stopped short of explicitly condemning the Jewish state.

“I am extremely concerned by the significant rise in the maiming of and injuries caused to children across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, including by tear-gas inhalation requiring medical treatment,” Guterres said, adding no specific censure.

He did, however, level harsh criticism at Syria, where 225 attacks on schools and medical facilities took place; and at Afghanistan, where 254 schools and hospitals were targeted last year.

“Increased numbers of attacks were also verified in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen,” said Guterres.

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour lambasted the decision.

“The U.N. secretary-general should include Israel in the ‘list of shame’ and add it to the countries that commit horrendous acts, especially against children,” he said.

By not including Israel on the list, the United Nations was “undercutting efforts to put an end to the criminal violations against children around the world,” Mansour added, noting that the decision further undermined the credibility of the list.

Absolving Israel from any kind of accountability further endangers the lives of Palestinian children, warned Mansour.

“We call on the international community to save an entire generation. The difficult circumstances, humiliation, panic and trauma caused by the detention of the Palestinian child are impeding society and aim at weakening it,” the Palestinian Mission to the United Nations said in a statement.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Social Development Ahmad Majdalani also admonished Guterres, saying that the U.N. chief “seems to have heard nothing of the violations committed by the Israeli occupation government against Palestinian children on a daily basis.”

He asked how Israel had “managed to get itself excluded” from the report.

The Jewish Press noted that Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for the NGO Human Rights Watch, was also critical of Guterres’s decision not to shame Israel in his report.

“The U.N. secretary-general simply refuses to hold to account all warring parties that have inflicted tremendous suffering on children,” Becker said in a statement, further suggesting that “by listing selected violators but not others, Secretary-General Guterres is ignoring the U.N.’s own evidence and undermining efforts to protect children in conflict.”

NGO Save the Children blasted the U.N. chief, saying, “This decision shows that the secretary-general has placed politics before children and that states with powerful friends can get away with destroying children’s lives with impunity.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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