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UN keeps Israel off child rights blacklist

AFP , Monday 8 Jun 2015
Gaza
A Palestinian carries a wounded boy following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike at a United Nations-run school, where displaced Palestinians take refuge, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 3, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)
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The United Nations on Monday released "List of Shame" of children's rights violators but did not include Israel, despite an outcry over the death of more than 500 children in the assault on Gaza last summer.

Rights groups had called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to add Israel to the list and there was much debate among UN agencies ahead of the final decision that rested with the UN chief.

Ban decided that last year's list would remain unchanged, but said he was "deeply alarmed" by the "grave violations suffered by children as a result of Israeli military operations in 2014."

"The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of the impact on children in 2014 raises grave concerns about Israel's compliance with international humanitarian law, notably the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack, and respect for international human rights law, particularly in relation to excessive use of force," he said.

The UN chief cited a "dramatic increase" in the number of children killed in Israel and in the Palestinian territories in 2014.

At least 561 children (557 Palestinian, four Israeli) were killed and 4,271 injured (4,249 Palestinian and 22 Israeli) last year.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric stressed that "the report is more than the list" and lays out concerns about the plight of children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor welcomed the decision, saying Ban "was right not to submit to the dictates of the terrorist organizations and the Arab states, in his decision not to include Israel in this shameful list, together with organizations like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban."

The current list has 51 groups including Boko Haram and the Islamic State group as well as the armed forces from eight countries such as Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

The blacklist of children's rights violators was released just two months after a UN inquiry found that the Israeli military was responsible for seven attacks on UN schools in Gaza that were used as shelters during the 2014 assault on Gaza.

The 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.

The United Nations is discussing measures to address the findings of the UN inquiry and it remains an open question as to whether they could be used in a possible war crimes case against Israel.

The 50-day attack on Gaza last year killed 539 children and injured 2,956, most of whom are Palestinians now struggling with trauma and life-long disabilities, according to the UN children's agency, UNICEF.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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