A confidential UN document obtained by Reuters on Friday reported an alarming number of child victims in the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. The document was prepared by UN agencies for submission to the UN special envoy for children in armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, as she prepares a draft of the annual list of violators of children’s rights.
The 22-page confidential document reportedly uses strong language in its condemnation of violations of children’s rights during the attacks on Gaza. It specifies what it said were unlawful deaths and injuries caused by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in its attacks on schools and hospitals.
2100 Palestinians, mostly civilians and around 540 children, were killed during the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. 371 of the children killed were 12 years old or younger.
A UN enquiry published in April of this year said that Israeli soldiers had fired on seven UN schools in Gaza during the assault, killing 44 Palestinians sheltering at the sites.
Israel’s UN mission did not have an immediate response to the leaked report, however Israel has lobbied hard against its inclusion on the list. Diplomatic sources allegedly told Reuters that UN agency chiefs had come under heavy pressure from Israel to drop it from the list.
Israel said that it should not be included on the list, but denied pressuring anyone.
Diplomatic sources also claimed that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was leaning against Israel’s inclusion on the list, after U.S Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, allegedly urged Ban not to list Israel.
In a section which appears to undermine the case for Israel’s inclusion, the document reports a failure to reach a consensus between heads of UN agencies on whether to list Israel, citing ambiguity in the application of listing criteria.
The question of Israel’s inclusion on the list is obviously a politically charged issue for Israel and the United States, with U.S lawmakers speaking out on the issue. Republican presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz, reportedly wrote to Ban Ki-moon on the issue this week.
According to Daily Sabah, Human Rights Watch apparently urged Ban to resist pressure from Israel and its allies to drop the Jewish state from the list. UN director for the rights watchdog, Philippe Bolopion, said that “Secretary-General Ban can strengthen child protection in war by compiling his list based on facts, not political pressure.
“The integrity and impact of the Secretary-General’s report is damaged when repeat-offenders are left off the list,” Bolopion continued. “Failure to include countries and groups that are known offenders will harm a report that’s been a powerful tool to protect children in war.”
Special envoy Leila Zerrougui included both IOF and the Palestinian Hamas movement in the draft she sent to Ban Ki-moon, who has the final say on the list, reported UN sources.
It is expected that the final version of the list could reach UN member states as early as the beginning of next week.