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UN report catalogs Israeli attacks on Palestinian children, but leaves Israel off child rights abusers ‘list of shame’

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Months ago journalists leaked that Israel would be kept off a United Nations list of the worst violators of children’s human rights in 2014 following frantic lobbying by Israel and the United States. The Guardian reported Israeli officials placed phone calls to the UN, the Jerusalem Post acknowledged Netanyahu spoke to Ban Ki-moon personally, and Foreign Policy found that the Obama administration dispatched Ambassador Samantha Power—all to pressure the UN into changing the draft.

“Top officials have buckled under political pressure,” a UN official told the Guardian back in March, “As a result, a clear message has been given that Israel will not be listed.”

Even so, Israel is preeminently featured throughout the report published yesterday and called out as one of the worst child rights abusers in the world with “devastating impacts” on minors. Last year the Israel military killed 200 more children in Gaza than the total number of children killed in Syria, the report noted. However, Israel was—as media outlets said at the beginning of the week when early releases of the final draft circulated—excluded from a list in the annex, a blacklist of the most egregious child abusing parties.

Screen shot of UN report on the killing and maiming of children.

Screen shot of UN report on the killing and maiming of children.

Despite the accounting within the report, human rights groups are criticizing the move to cut Israel from the ‘list of shame’. “By removing Israel’s armed forces from the children’s ‘list of shame’, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has provided tacit approval for Israeli forces to continue carrying out grave violations against children with impunity,” Khaled Quzmar, Defense of Children International Palestine’s General Director, said.

What is included in the report is five pages in the main document that notes 35 separate incidents, under the header of “Israel and the State of Palestine.” It is the longest section of 22 geographic regions examined, longer than the profiles on Iraq and Yemen combined, two countries embattled in warfare with Islamic terror organization and airstrikes from coalition forces.

In Gaza alone, the UN documented 557 children were killed, the third highest number of minors killed in a single region, trailing behind Afghanistan and Iraq, but ahead of Syria. Of the 4,249 injured children, 70% were under the age of 12. Moreover, the Israeli military razed or struck 543 school, including 274 kindergartens. The UN underscored more schools were damaged in Gaza during the 51-day the summer war than any country in the entire world, for the whole of 2014.

“The number of child casualties exceeds the combined number of Palestinian children killed during the two previous escalations,” the inquiry stressed, adding “reports of Palestinian civilians and civilian objects being directly hit in circumstances where there was allegedly no rocket fire or armed group activity in the vicinity”—including a number of drone strikes that killed children.

In the West Bank, “The children killed by the Israeli security forces did not appear to have posed a lethal threat,” the UN wrote of the 13 minors killed in Israeli military shootings.

In Jerusalem, 700 children were detained while 151 from the West Bank were in detention at the time of conclusion of the investigation in December 2014. The UN further obtained sworn testimony from 122 previously incarcerated minors who were “subjected to ill-treatment, such as beatings, being hit with sticks, being blindfolded, being kicked and being subjected to verbal abuse and threats of sexual violence.”

The UN also found Palestinian militants in Gaza were responsible for killing four Israeli children and 13 Palestinian children in 2014 due to rocket fire. Three Israeli schools were damaged. There were five confirmed instances where militant groups recruited Palestinian children into combat, and were subsequently killed by the Israeli military.

The report did not indicate the Palestinian Authority, the governing body over the West Bank, had caused any deaths of children in 2014.

Annually the UN assembles a report on the countries with the highest number of killings, and physical and sexual abuses. At the end of the document an annex lists out the top perpetrators, a mix of state militaries and militant groups described in the above region profiles. Usually the parties outlined in the annex match the groups detailed in the full report, with Israel as an outstanding exception.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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12 Responses

  1. just on June 12, 2015, 11:13 am

    The UN and the US have further delegitimized themselves with this contemptible act/inaction.

    Good humans everywhere are outraged.

    Thanks, Allison.

    • truth2power on June 14, 2015, 5:27 am

      It’s sickening, isn’t it? The dishonour and disrespect they bring on themselves for conniving with Israel’s abuse is gut-wrenching!

  2. Bornajoo on June 12, 2015, 2:50 pm

    Yes, they can even slaughter over 500 children with no consequences.

    This is what you can achieve with friends in high places.

    Unfortunately it was fairly obvious they would be kept off the list because the Empire wished it so. And they sent Zionist Samantha i-sold-my-soul-to – the – zionists Power to make sure it was indeed kept off the list

    Thank you Allison

  3. just on June 12, 2015, 6:10 pm

    In related news that’s actually old news:

    “A day in the life of a Palestinian child laborer

    According to a Human Rights Watch report, hundreds of Palestinian youths, some as young as 11, are being employed on settlement farms. The work is hard, and conditions even harder. Three youngsters describe an average workday.

    Around 5 A.M., before sunrise, a Palestinian in the Jordan Valley leaves for work. There’s not much time. He has to reach the junction a few hundred meters away by 5:30. From there, he’ll go to work in one of the area’s Jewish settlements. Some go by foot, others in a vehicle usually belonging to a Palestinian subcontractor. They gather at the Moshav Tomer entrance, hop on a big wagon tied to a tractor, and head down a dirt road toward the vineyard.

    Among the workers are Yusef, Mohammed and Ali, all aged 14-15. The boys use fake names out of fear of retribution from their employer.

    Others on the crowded wagon look even younger. It’s hard to know for sure, but no one’s checking. Moshav Tomer’s security guard stands watching on the side. The workday begins.

    Not even the Palestinian middlemen are concerned by the children’s ages. Their ability to survive economically depends almost entirely on working in the settlements. In April, Human Rights Watch issued a 74-page report (“Ripe for Abuse: Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Agricultural Settlements in the West Bank”), stating that the settlements, primarily ones in the Jordan Valley, employ hundreds of Palestinian youths, many of them under the age of 15 (the legal working age).

    The law places several limitations on how many hours children can work daily or weekly, and the type of labor. It’s hard to find observance here of the laws and local regulations, as well as the United Nations and International Labor Organization conventions to which Israel is a signatory. The lack of registration and supervision is part of the Israeli system of control, and allows those involved to close their eyes. It seems the settlements prefer it this way.

    “We don’t hire children directly, period,” insists David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council. “We don’t follow the contractors. Responsibility for the workers is theirs.”…

    …Settlers quickly block any attempts to speak with the youths, on the grounds that they are on private property. According to the HRW report, none of the children had ever spoken with an Israeli labor inspector.

    The Economy Ministry responded, “As of today, the child labor law does not apply to Judea and Samaria.” The ministry noted that since the High Court of Justice ruled that Israeli employers are obliged to pay Palestinian workers according to Israeli law, work has been done to apply Israeli labor laws in Judea and Samaria. “An interministerial team that dealt with the matter prepared a draft of labor laws that the government seeks to implement in Judea and Samaria, but the work was stopped as a result of the previous Knesset disbanding and early elections, and has yet to be renewed,” the ministry said.

    Elhayani, meanwhile, stated that the role of the security guard cited in this article is not to observe or monitor the Palestinian workers, but rather to “protect the vineyards from break-ins and thefts.”

    “We have excellent relations with our Palestinian neighbors,” he added. “They host us, even in villages in Area B [under Palestinian civilian control but Israeli military control], and receive us with dancing and rejoicing. We get along excellently with them.””

    “Dancing and rejoicing”.

    Yeah, right. It’s positively Dickensian.

    • Bornajoo on June 12, 2015, 6:15 pm

      Thanks for posting this Just

      Apartheid and child slave labour

      • just on June 12, 2015, 6:43 pm

        You’re welcome.

        Also from the article:

        “10-12 hour workday

        Yusef and Mohammed are 15. They describe a workday that lasts until 1 P.M., including a “half-hour break at 10:30 for breakfast and rest.” Ali, 14, says he left school last year and that he mainly works in Tomer’s vineyards.

        “We carry the crates and thin out the vines so the grape bunches will grow nicely,” says Ali. “The work is done one row at a time, and you have to finish it. Sometimes it’s hard to stand bent over for so long.”

        Peeking at the hothouses, fields and vineyards in the settlements along Highway 90 (which traverses the valley), one can spot other youths. Some smile silently when we inquire about their age.”

        The other day I wondered how many of the wines profiled in an article in Haaretz might be targets for BDS.

        I don’t have to wonder anymore~ boycott them ALL.

      • RoHa on June 12, 2015, 11:33 pm

        “child slave labour”

        But that’s what Palestian children are for!

  4. ritzl on June 13, 2015, 2:14 am

    This is why the citizenship status of hypothetical Presidential candidates is so important. If you’re a citizen of the country doing this and you do or say nothing about it, how can you expect to be taken seriously on any issue of gross human suffering, let alone modest economic change.

    It sounds like Israel topped the list but was kept off. I wonder if they leave a memorial blank spot and move on to #2, or are all other violating countries just moved up a notch?

  5. JohnWV on June 13, 2015, 9:58 am

    News typically represents the Jewish state’s obliterating infrastructure and civilians in Palestinian neighborhoods with American fighter jets, tanks and white phosphorous as retaliation for some act of Palestine. It isn’t so. By recreating the Warsaw Ghetto in illegally besieged Palestine and wreaking horrors upon its inmates, including children, for generations, Israel is, and always has been, the aggressor. Hopefully, with Palestine’s UN Observer membership, the Hague International Criminal Court will convict the Israeli criminals, impose punitive reparations, and force an end to the Jewish state’s relentless pursuit of invulnerability, territorial conquest and apartheid supremacist empire.

  6. oldgeezer on June 13, 2015, 11:20 am

    It is not possible to say it doesn’t matter that Israel was left off as it does matter a great deal. The children murdered and abused by Israel are denied even this small measure of justice from those that place no value on their lives.

    That said Israel must be so proud to actually be one of the worst violators of children in the world. What an accomplishment. Everyone knows the only reason they aren’t listed is due to politics and not due them not being amongst that vile and foul group.

    Moon is one of the most corrupt and ineffective UN leaders in history. Willing to sell principle for politics at any time.

    Well done Israel… I wonder how many kids the most immoral army in the world has beaten today. Scum.

  7. NickJOCW on June 16, 2015, 11:31 am

    While it is true Israel was left off the ‘list of shame’, that shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the many devastating, detailed and impeccably attributed statistics the report does provide about what has been going on or the significant passages calling on all nations to ensure their businesses are aware of the legal implications of involving themselves in activities associated with the occupied territories. It is also worth reminding ourselves how may nations insist Israel’s settlements are totally illegal and its borders remain pre-1967 whatever they do.

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