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UN Chief Criticised for Excluding Israeli Forces from List of Shame, Adds Russian Military


The Russian military and allied armed groups have been placed on the “list of shame” for their actions in the war against Ukraine by the United Nations (UN) on the treatment of children in conflict zones.


However, Israeli forces, despite their involvement in the killing of over 40 Palestinian children last year, were not included in the list. The decision by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has drawn criticism from human rights organizations and Palestinian representatives.

Human rights organizations had repeatedly called for Israel to be added to the UN blacklist due to the killing and maiming of Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, described Guterres’s decision as a “big mistake.”

The United Nations headquarters building in the New York, U.S. PHOTO/COURTESY
The United Nations headquarters building in the New York, U.S. PHOTO/COURTESY

The annual UN report, which was shared with the UN Security Council, expressed Guterres’s dismay at the high number of grave violations against children in Ukraine in 2022.

The report listed 477 children killed in Ukraine last year, with 136 deaths directly attributed to Russian forces and affiliated groups. Ukrainian armed forces were responsible for 80 child fatalities, while the remaining victims could not be definitively attributed to either side.

The report highlighted air attacks as the primary cause of child casualties and verified that Russian forces and affiliated groups had maimed 518 children, conducted 480 attacks on schools and hospitals, and used 91 children as human shields. However, Ukrainian forces were not included in the list.

Regarding the situation in Palestine, Guterres expressed deep concern over the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in 2022. The report documented the deaths of 42 Palestinian children and injuries to 933 others caused by Israeli forces.

In 2021, Israeli forces had killed 78 Palestinian children. Israel has never been listed by the UN for the killing of children.

The names and faces of the 16 children killed in Gaza PHOTO/COURTESY
The names and faces of the 16 children killed in Gaza PHOTO/COURTESY

While the inclusion of Russian forces on the list was welcomed by Human Rights Watch, the organization criticized Guterres for excluding Israeli forces.

The advocacy director for children’s rights at Human Rights Watch, Jo Becker, stated that Guterres had repeatedly failed Palestinian children by not holding Israeli forces accountable for their grave violations.

“By adding Russia’s forces to his list of shame, the Secretary General is holding them to account for horrific violations against children,” said Jo Becker.

Jo Becker. Advocacy Director, Children's Rights Division
Jo Becker. Advocacy Director, Children’s Rights Division

Becker argued that Guterres’s decision had only emboldened Israeli forces to continue using unlawful lethal force against Palestinian children.

“His [Guterres’s] unwillingness, year after year, to hold Israeli forces accountable for their grave violations against children has backfired, only emboldening Israeli forces to use unlawful lethal force against Palestinian children,” Becker said.

“From 2015-2020, the UN attributed over 6,700 child casualties to Israeli forces. He has just verified 975 more in 2022. Yet he still omits Israel from his ‘list of shame’,” Becker wrote in a tweet.

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour expressed disappointment at the exclusion of Israel from the list, particularly given the actions of the current Israeli government.

He described the omission as a missed opportunity to address the extreme nature of the Israeli government.

Read also: The Unthinkable Unfolds: Nuclear Arms Revealed as Ukraine Burns

The UN report has faced controversy in recent years, with claims that Saudi Arabia and Israel have exerted pressure to avoid being included on the list.

In 2020, a Saudi-led military coalition was removed from the list several years after being named for causing harm to children in Yemen.

The report also condemned violence against children in other conflict-affected regions, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Syria, Haiti, and various other countries.

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