UN to Condemn Both Israel and Hamas for Violating Children’s Rights in Conflict

The United Nations will inform the Security Council next week that both Israel and Hamas are violating children’s rights and exposing them to danger in their ongoing conflict.

The secretary-general annually compiles a list of states and militias that pose threats to children. This list has previously included entities like the Kachin Independence Army in Myanmar and, last year, Russia during its war with Ukraine.

Now, Israel is set to be added to this list.

António Guterres sends the list to the United Nations, and the council can then decide whether to take action. The United States, one of the five permanent members with veto power, has historically been reluctant to take action against Israel, its long-standing ally.

Another permanent member is Russia, and when the United Nations blacklisted Russian forces last year for killing children and attacking schools and hospitals in Ukraine, the council took no action.

The inclusion of Israel this month is likely to intensify global scrutiny of the country’s conduct in the Gaza war and exacerbate already strained relations with the international organization.

The preface of last year’s U.N. report lists parties involved in “the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against children, attacks on schools, hospitals and protected persons.”

Guterres’ office informed Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Gilad Erdan, on Friday that Israel would be included in the report when it is sent to the council next week, U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters.

The militant groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will also be listed.

Israel responded with outrage, releasing a video of Erdan criticizing the head of Guterres’ office on X.

“Hamas will continue even more to use schools and hospitals because this shameful decision of the secretary-general will only give Hamas hope to survive and extend the war and extend the suffering,” Erdan wrote in a statement. “Shame on him!”

The Palestinian U.N. ambassador stated that adding Israel to the “‘list of shame,’ will not bring back tens of thousands of our children who were killed by Israel over decades.”

“But it is an important step in the right direction,” Riyad Mansour wrote in a statement.

Israel declared “the U.N. put itself on the black list of history today” as the move escalated the longstanding conflict between Israel and the U.N., adding tension to even the routine aspects of Israel’s interactions with the international body.

The normally composed secretary-general’s spokesman deviated from his usual demeanor during his noon briefing when asked about the recent development.

“The call was a courtesy afforded to countries that are newly listed on the annex of the report,” Dujarric said. “The partial release of that recording on Twitter is shocking and unacceptable and frankly, something I’ve never seen in my 24 years serving this organization.”

Condemnation of the secretary-general’s decision appeared to unite Israel’s often divided leadership, from the right-wing Netanyahu and Erdan to the popular centrist member of the War Cabinet, Benny Gantz.

Gantz cited Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, as saying “it matter not what say the goyim (non-Jews), what is important is what do the Jews.”

For months, Israel has faced intense international criticism regarding civilian casualties in Gaza and questions about whether it has taken sufficient measures to prevent them during the eight-month war. Two recent airstrikes in Gaza resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians.

U.N. agencies warned Wednesday that over 1 million Palestinians in Gaza could face extreme levels of starvation by the middle of next month if hostilities persist.

The World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a joint report that hunger is worsening due to severe restrictions on humanitarian access and the collapse of the local food system in the eight-month Israel-Hamas war.

An Associated Press analysis of Gaza Health Ministry data has revealed a sharp decrease in the proportion of Palestinian women and children killed in the Israel-Hamas war, a trend that coincides with Israel’s shifting battlefield tactics and contradicts the ministry’s own public statements.

This trend is significant because the death rate for women and children serves as the best available proxy for civilian casualties in one of the 21st century’s most destructive conflicts. In October, when the war began, it was above 60%. For the month of April, it was below 40%.

However, this shift remained unnoticed by the U.N. and much of the media for months, and the Hamas-linked Health Ministry has made no attempt to clarify the situation.