UN battle to ‘shame’ Israel over abuse of children

Attack on Gaza last year raises pressure on Ban Ki-moon to put Israeli army on same list as Islamic State and Taliban

Palestinian solidarity groups have taken to social media to step up the pressure on United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include Israel for the first time on a “shame list” of serious violators of children’s rights.

The campaign, which culminates in the submission of an online petition to Ban’s office on 7 May, was launched after indications that Israel is exerting enormous pressure on UN officials to avoid being named.

Ban’s office is due to make the list public in the coming weeks.

A senior UN source, who wished to remain anonymous because of the diplomatically sensitive nature of any announcement, told Middle East Eye that Ban’s chief advisers had recommended that the Israeli army be identified as a serious violator of children’s rights.

That would place it, for the first time, alongside groups like Islamic State, the Taliban and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, pushing Israel further towards international isolation.

Israel has found ever fewer supporters in the international community as it has tried to prevent Palestinian moves both to win recognition at the UN for statehood and to be accepted at international bodies such as the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Relations with the White House have recently hit an unprecedented low.

The decision, the source said, had become all but inevitable after the recent findings of a UN inquiry into Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer known as Operation Protective Edge that killed more than 500 Palestinian children and injured at least 3,300 others.

The investigation concluded that the Israeli army had targeted six UN schools where civilians, including many children, were sheltering, even though it had been notified of the sites and their GPS coordinates in advance.

Ban described the attacks — which killed 44 Palestinians and injured 227 more — as “a matter of the utmost gravity”.

Large-scale killing and maiming of children, and attacks on schools, are among the “triggers” for inclusion on the list in a UN monitoring process of children’s right in conflicts around the world introduced a decade ago.

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