Israeli officials pushing to ensure that the Jewish state is not blacklisted in the United Nation’s Children and Armed Conflict report due to be published in the coming months met this past week with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“There is, understandably, a lot of interest in different parts of that report,” Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Wednesday when quizzed about the meeting.
“I just ask for everybody’s patience to wait” for the report’s release, “which should be late June or early July,” he added.
Involvement of UN Ambassador from Israel Gilad Erdan
Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian spoke with Guterres in New York on Tuesday to provide him with data regarding Palestinian casualties during IDF military operations in advance of the report’s release.
“We presented the secretary-general with clear data proving that the majority of Palestinian minors killed in the past year were involved in acts of violence and terrorism,” Erdan said.
“This information was omitted from the UN data, along with the fact that terrorist organizations use Palestinian children as human shields and fire missiles and rockets from densely populated areas,” he added.
“Whoever is responsible for the incitement and recruitment of minors for murder and terrorism is the one who should be included on the blacklist, not the IDF, which is the most moral army in the world,” Erdan stated.
Israeli officials similarly provided such information to the special representative of the UN secretary-general for children and armed conflict Virginia Gamba when she visited Israel in December. Neither Erdan’s office nor the IDF has released that data to the public.
The UN had warned Israel and the Palestinian Authority last year that both governments could be blacklisted in this year’s report if steps were not taken to protect children in armed conflict.
Last year’s report called out both Israel and Palestinian armed groups for failing to protect children in armed conflict but noted that the reporting period had included the 11-day Gaza war in 2021. The UN, therefore, had not included Israel in its annex at the back of the report dubbed “the blacklist” which cites the most problematic countries.
It had warned both Israeli and Palestinian armed groups, that if the situation were to be repeated in 2022, they would be blacklisted. The Palestinian armed groups in question were: Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigade and the Al-Quds Brigades.
According to the report, 86 Palestinian children and two Israeli children were killed in violence due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The report did not distinguish between non-combatants and combatants and or terror victims.
It noted that the 17 Palestinian child fatalities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2021 were “killed by Israeli forces using live ammunition mainly during demonstrations (9) or in retaliation to alleged or attempted attacks on Israeli civilians or forces.”
The report explained that Israel was working with the UN to prevent child fatalities and casualties, but Palestinian armed groups had not engaged with the UN on the issue.
In a press conference last year after the report’s release Gamba said 80% of the child fatalities and casualties were related to the Gaza conflict, but that otherwise the numbers had decreased over a three-year period.