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Israel added to UN 'blacklist' of parties that harm children in conflict

Israel's UN ambassador outraged over notice of country's admission to blacklist, claims Israeli army is 'most moral in the world'
Palestinian children hold signs at a UN school housing displaced Palestinians in Gaza City on 4 June 2024, amid the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza.
Palestinian children hold signs at a UN school housing displaced Palestinians in Gaza City on 4 June 2024, amid the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza (Omar al-Qattaa/AFP)

The United Nations has placed Israel on a blacklist of countries that have committed abuses against children, after Israeli forces killed thousands of Palestinian children in its ongoing war on Gaza.

The placement of Israel was confirmed by Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, who said on X that he received the notification and was outraged at the move. He also shared on the social media platform a recording of the call in which he received the news from a UN official.

"This is simply outrageous and wrong," Erdan said.

"I responded to the shameful decision and said that our army is the most moral in the world. The only one being blacklisted is the secretary general who incentivises and encourages terrorism and is motivated by hatred towards Israel."

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the UN secretary general, said during a press briefing on Friday that a UN official called the Israeli ambassador to inform him of the listing as "a courtesy afforded to countries that are newly listed" in the UN's annual "Children in Armed Conflict" report.

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"It is done to give those countries a heads-up and avoid leaks," Dujarric told reporters.

That report will be presented to the UN Security Council on 14 June. Reuters reported citing a UN official that the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad would also be added to the list.

Dujarric added that Erdan's publishing of the phone call "is shocking and unacceptable – and frankly something I've never seen in my 24 years serving this organisation".

The UN's annual report on children in armed conflict lists "parties engaging in violations against children", and includes documented killing and maiming, as well as sexual violence.

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The list includes the countries of Russia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Syria. It also includes non-state actors such as the Islamic State (IS) group, al-Shabaab, the Taliban and al-Qaeda, among others.

According to the government media office in Gaza, Israeli forces have killed more than 15,571 Palestinian children in the besieged enclave during its war.

Rights groups and UN agencies have decried the impact Israel's war has had on the Palestinian civilian population, including its acute impact on children.

The UN children's fund (Unicef) said that nine in 10 Palestinian children in Gaza face "severe child food poverty" which the agency said is "one of the highest percentages ever recorded".

Several Palestinian children have died from starvation, thirst and acute malnutrition.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said last week that four in five Palestinian children in Gaza "did not eat for a whole day" for at least one out of the past three days.

Late last month, the image of a Palestinian child decapitated from an Israeli air strike in Rafah had gone viral on social media, sparking further outrage at the Israeli military.

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