Written by 12:28 World

U.N. to Add Israel and Hamas to List of Countries and Groups That Harm Children

The United Nations will add Israel, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to a list of countries and armed groups that harm children when it releases its annual report on children and armed conflict, citing the heavy toll the war in Gaza has taken on minors, including killing, maiming and starvation, U.N. officials said.

Stéphane Dujarric, the U.N. spokesman, said the body’s chief of staff called the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, on Friday to inform him that Israel would be listed this year. “The call was a courtesy afforded to countries that are newly listed,” Mr. Dujarric said, “to give countries a heads-up and avoid leaks.”

Hamas, the armed group that led Gaza before the war, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-largest armed group in the enclave, will be named in the report. Hamas is being cited because its fighters abducted and killed Israeli children when they attacked Israel on Oct. 7, a U.N. official said. Armed groups that harm children in conflicts, like the Taliban and Boko Haram, are routinely named in the annual report.

The news of Israel’s listing further strained an already deteriorating relationship between it and the United Nations.

Mr. Erdan called the move “an immoral decision that aids terrorism and rewards terrorists.” He made a video recording of the phone call and released parts of it on the social media site X.

Mr. Dujarric, the U.N. spokesman, called the release of a recording of the telephone call “shocking and unacceptable and something I’ve never seen in my 25 years serving this organization.”

The United Nations’ special representative for children and armed conflict prepares the yearly report under a mandate from the General Assembly and the Security Council. The report will be presented to members of the Council next Friday and released publicly on June 18, Mr. Dujarric said. The Council will have an open debate about the report’s findings later this month.

During Hamas’s terrorist attack on Oct. 7, armed men kidnapped children, some of them toddlers and babies, and held them hostage in Gaza. Children were also among the roughly 1,200 Israelis and foreigners killed.

Israel’s retaliatory bombing campaign and ground war in Gaza has killed at least 36,000 people, Gazan health officials say, a large portion of them women and children. The United Nations has said that children in Gaza also face famine and starvation because Israel has restricted humanitarian aid. Many children have also lost limbs or been gravely wounded in other ways.

Majed Bamya, the Palestinian deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said in a post on X, “Israeli ministers are the only ones surprised of such a development (list will be released next week) after the killing and maiming of so many Palestinian children.”

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Last modified: 9 June 2024
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