Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations (UN), Dr. Riyadh Mansour, today expressed his extreme regret at the decision of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to drop Israel from the annual list on parties who commit grave violations against children during armed conflict.
Ambassador Mansour said that this decision was clearly contrary to the evidence laid out to the UN, and the criteria set out in this regard. He stressed that Israel, the occupying power, has blatantly committed serious and systematic human rights abuses against Palestinian children.
He added that the evidence shows a pattern of killing children in occupied Palestine by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) attacks on schools and hospitals, as well as the denial of access to humanitarian assistance and other human rights violations. This includes the arrest and detention of hundreds of Palestinian children.
He referred to the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip last summer, during which IOF attacked 279 school and 75 health centres and hospitals, which caused the deaths of a huge number of civilians including 535 Palestinian children with at least 3374 more wounded. Around a 1000 children have been left permanently disabled.
Mansour pointed out that UN agencies such as UNRWA and UNICEF, as well as other agencies including Israeli ones, have documented these abuses in a very clear manner, showing the abuses that Palestinian children have had to suffer under at the hands of the Israeli occupation’s armed aggressions in Gaza.
He stressed Israel’s lack of accountability for these crimes emboldened it to continue its contempt of the law and its position above the law. Mansour said that the failure to include Israel on the list, when the criteria to do so clearly apply, would exacerbate impunity and lead to the further suffering of Palestinian children.
Mansour said that the UN’s failure to include Israel on the list because of pressure from various parties sent an unfortunate message that the same standards do not apply in all cases and to all children, which undermined the credibility of the UN as a mechanism to protect children in armed conflict.
He stressed that Israeli crimes against Palestinian children would only come to an end when the occupation itself came to an end after almost half a century. The ambassador reiterated his urgent call for the international community to help protect Palestinian children’s rights and to compel Israel to comply fully with obligations under international law, as well as to end its occupation of Palestinian land immediately.
Ambassador Mansour concluded by saying that it was time to put an end to the cycle of impunity, to reach a just and lasting solution for the Palestinian people, to actualize the rights of inalienable national aspirations, and to ensure peace, security and dignity for all.
The UN board of inquiry confirmed that UN officials working with Palestinian refugees sent twice-daily communications to the Israeli military with precise GPS coordinates of the schools being used as emergency shelters, said Al Jazeera.
The UN is discussing measures to address the findings of the UN inquiry and, according to Al Jazeera, it remains an open question as to whether they could be used in a possible war crimes case against Israel.