United Nations visiting official Virginia Gamba must place the IDF on the blacklist of countries with armies that commit grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict in the aftermath of the shooting of Jana Zakarneh, 16, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Monday.
He spoke out in a statement published by the Palestine news agency WAFA, just as Gamba, the UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict was visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories to investigate the situation of children caught in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Her visit coincided with Zakarneh's death on a Jenin rooftop during a gun battle between armed Palestinians and IDF soldiers. Israel said it was likely that she had accidentally been killed by one of its soldiers.
Interviews with the UN Secretary-General
Reporters in New York quizzed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about Gamba's visit and Zakarneh's death.
Gamba "has not made a statement on this right now, but of course, she is going about her work, and we expect that she'll have more to say as she goes through her travels," he said.
He explained that she was conducting an official visit through December 15 and that it was part of her 'efforts to engage with all parties on the importance of ending and preventing grave violations against children, a call emphasized by the Secretary-General in his latest Annual Report on children and armed conflict covering the year 2021."
The list includes a "blacklist" of countries believed to be the worst offenders. Israel had been on that list in the past, but was removed in the last years. Jerusalem has worked to ensure that it is not put back on that list.
Harsh words for both parties
In the last report, which covered the period of the 2021 Gaza war, Guterres's office had harsh words for both Israelis and Palestinians over child deaths in situations of violent conflict.
But it reserved its harshest criticism for Israel, with Guterres noting that "I'm shocked by the number of children killed and maimed during hostilities [in Gaza]," he wrote.