A Palestinian student sits on a motorcycle as he watches a protest at the gate of the headquarters of UNRWA in Gaza City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is leaning toward not including Israel on a list that would compare the IDF to Boko Haram and ISIS when it comes to violating children’s rights in armed conflicts, according to diplomatic sources.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Ban about the report, which was authored by Leila Zerrougui, the special representative of the secretary- general for children and armed conflict.
At issue is an annex to the report that would place Israel on a list with terrorist organizations and states considered to be among the world’s worst human-rights abusers.
Netanyahu told Israeli reporters on Thursday he had warned Ban that these comparisons may start with Israel, but risk destroying international norms.
Ban has the discretion to make changes to the report Zerrougui submitted to his office prior to its June publication.
In an annual report on the state of children in armed conflict delivered to the UN Human Rights Council in March, Zerrougui spoke of her concern for Palestinian children in Gaza who were killed and wounded during last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas.
She compared their situation with that of five other crisis areas, such as the Central African Republic, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria.
“In the ‘State of Palestine,’ at least 539 children were reportedly killed during the Israeli military operations launched in Gaza between 8 July and 26 August, 2014. Thousands more were injured and suffered life-long disabilities or lost family members, homes, schools and hospitals in the bombings,” Zerrougui said in her March report.
Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the secretary- general had not made a decision on whether to include Israel on the list.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Israel had reason to believe Ban would remove the IDF from that list.
A draft of the report by Zerrougui, of Algeria, cited the IDF for incidents including attacks on schools and hospitals in Gaza last year, as well as violations by Hamas during the conflict.
During last summer’s conflict, 66 IDF soldiers and six Israeli civilians were killed, according to Israeli statistics.
Israel further counts 2,140 Palestinians killed, of which half were terrorists. The UN counts 2,200 Palestinians deaths of which it calculates that 605 were fighters.
A UN inquiry published in April said Israeli soldiers fired on seven UN schools during the Gaza war, killing 44 Palestinians who were sheltered at some of the sites, while Palestinian fighters hid weapons and launched attacks from several empty UN schools.
Human-rights organizations have given the United Nations arguments for listing the IDF and Palestinian groups like Hamas on the annex list in Zerrougui’s report.
Some sources said UN officials had indicated to rights groups that the IDF and Hamas would most likely be on the list.
“Now, under pressure from Israel, the secretary-general is leaning toward not heeding the recommendation of Ms. Zerrougui and probably won’t include Israel,” one source said.
Other UN diplomatic sources echoed this and spoke of heated discussions among senior UN officials, with one argument being the IDF should not be categorized with groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan.
On April 27, following the release of the UN inquiry, Human Rights Watch recommended to Ban that Israel and Hamas be listed. The group’s Philippe Bolopion wrote that, in their case, the UN’s “standard of a pattern of violations involving a multiple commission of acts has been met.” Countries had been listed for less serious violations, he said.
Amnesty International said in a report last week that Hamas had committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during last year’s war. In a March report, the organization criticized Israel and accused it of war crimes during the conflict.