By Joseph A. Klein
June 9, 2015
According to the New York Times, citing unnamed diplomats, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon bowed to “unusual pressure from Israel and the United States” in deciding not to include either Israel or Hamas on a list of “armies and guerilla groups that kill and maim children in conflicts worldwide.” The list is included in an annex to an annual report by the Secretary General entitled “Children and armed conflict,” which he just released for 2015. The list, as its title states, is intended to identify specifically the entities that “recruit or use children, kill or maim children, commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, or engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals in situations of armed conflict.”
Ban Ki-moon considered the recommendation of his special representative for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, to include both Israel and Hamas on this list as a reflection of their actions and the deadly consequences to children arising from the Gaza conflict last summer. The list already includes such Islamic jihad terrorist groups as the Islamic State, the al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al Shabaaba, Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula and the Houthis, as well as government forces of the Syrian regime, Yemen, Sudan and Afghanistan.
While the Secretary General rejected his special representative’s recommendation, leaving both the terrorist jihadist group Hamas and Israel off the list in a display of moral equivalence, the body of the report is far more condemnatory of Israel than of Hamas or other Palestinian militants. There were more than three times as many paragraphs devoted to alleged Israeli violations of children’s rights relating to the Gaza war than devoted to the actions of Hamas or other Palestinian terrorists. When there was any criticism of Palestinian actions, it was stated in the mildest of terms. Israel, on the other hand, received the full brunt of the Secretary General’s censure:
“I am deeply alarmed at the extent of 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.” (Paragraph 110)
Nevertheless, Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, was not satisfied. He issued a blistering statement declaring that “It is without doubt that Israel, the occupying Power, flagrantly, systematically and grossly commits human rights violations against Palestinian children constituting grave violations that qualify it for such a listing in the annex to the Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict. The UN’s inaction, submitting to the inordinate pressures exerted, sends a most regrettable signal that the same criteria do not apply in all situations for all children, undermining the credibility of the UN system as a whole…”
As usual, Mr. Mansour stands the truth on its head. Indeed, Ban Ki-moon should have accepted his special representative’s recommendation to include Hamas on the annex list. Hamas and its other jihadist allies, not Israel, belong on the list alongside their Islamic State and al Qaeda brethren. They use children as human shields, deliberately store weapons in schools, homes hospitals and mosques where children are likely to be, and recruit children for jihad including the establishment of youth military training camps. They prepare children for the glory of martyrdom, extolling the virtues of suicide bombings that kill Jews.
Ban Ki-moon properly rejected his special representative’s recommendation to include Israel on the annex list. Israel does not belong on the same list as non-state and state entities that deliberately kill children with abandon, recruit children as soldiers, abduct and rape little girls, and kill their parents before their very eyes. To the contrary, the Israeli armed forces took great pains to minimize civilian casualties. It took the unprecedented step of warning civilians in advance of impending attacks on facilities that Hamas was using as launching pads from which to fire rockets at Israeli population centers and from which they were building their terrorist tunnels to sneak their fighters into Israel for the purpose of killing Israeli civilians, including women and children.
However, putting the annex list aside, Mr. Mansour should have been happy that the Secretary General reflected the institutional bias of the United Nations against Israel in the body of his report. In a crucial paragraph urging corrective actions to remedy the report’s catalogue of alleged violation of children’s rights—mostly said to be committed by Israel—the report focused solely on what Israel should do:
“I urge Israel to take concrete and immediate steps, including by reviewing existing policies and practices, to protect children, to prevent the killing and maiming of children, and to respect the special protections afforded to schools and hospitals. An essential measure in this regard is ensuring accountability for perpetrators of alleged violations. I further urge Israel to engage in a dialogue with my Special Representative and the United Nations to ensure that there is no recurrence in grave violations against children.” (Paragraph 111)
As usual, nothing is asked of the Palestinians. They are not urged to stop storing weapons in schools and hospitals. They are not asked “to protect children, to prevent the killing and maiming of children,” which they could begin to do by not using children as human shields, and not deliberately conducting rocket attacks against Israeli civilians including children and conducting other military activities from areas where they know Palestinian children are likely to be. They are not asked to close the youth military training camps or stop the online propaganda that indoctrinates Palestinian children into believing that martyrdom through jihad against Jews is the way to paradise.
We should not be surprised. Such anti-Israel bias is par for the course at the United Nations. Its Human Rights Council passes more resolutions condemning Israel than all of the other 192 member states combined. The Human Rights Council’s agenda item 7 requires that Israel’s—and only Israel’s - record of human rights be debated at every session. Investigations launched by the Human Rights Council and the UN Secretary General of alleged human rights and other international law violations in Gaza during the repeated wars there initiated by Hamas’s terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians are blatantly one-sided against Israel.
Israel was the only country in the world to be named as a violator of “health rights” during the UN World Health Organization’s annual assembly in May 2015. Never mind about Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, or North Korea where basic medical care and health services are scarce, if existent at all. Israel facilitates the delivery of humanitarian aid and takes care of the sick and injured, whether they be Palestinians or not. The Syrian regime prevents humanitarian aid including medical supplies from reaching besieged civilians, including Palestinian children trapped in Yarmouk. Yet the World Health Organization chose to ignore all this and adopt a resolution focusing solely on health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Golan Heights, for which Israel is held responsible.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women, whose latest annual meeting concluded on March 20, 2015, marched to the same anti-Israel tune. The only country it condemned for its women’s rights record was Israel, presumably because of its alleged treatment of Palestinian women.
“If anyone had any doubt that there was demonization of Israel at the United Nations, here is the entire truth before our eyes,” said Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor. “There are 193 member states in the UN, and they include countries that butcher men and women, jail both male and female journalists, execute female oppositionists and legislate laws against women. All of these countries receive immunity in the UN. The UN Commission on the Status of Women is itself comprised of some of the worst violators of women’s rights, including Iran and Sudan, two of the more moderate members by comparison.”
Every day it seems that there is new proof of the demonization and attempts to delegitimize the Jewish state of Israel at the United Nations. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on “children and armed conflict” is but the latest example. There will certainly be more to come.