Israel Must Be Included in the List of Shame

A Deluge of Severe Israeli Violations Against Palestinian Children

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Israel Must Be Included in the List of Shame
António Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations

In a statement issued today, Mwatana for Human Rights has called on UN Secretary-General António Guterres to include the Israel Defense Forces in the List of Shame, which enumerates perpetrators of grave violations against children in armed conflicts. Despite overwhelming evidence of Israel's severe violations against children, this call has been ignored in previous years. Annually, the UN releases the "List of Shame" as part of the Secretary-General's report on children and armed conflict. This list identifies parties to conflicts that have committed one or more of the six grave violations against children: killing and maiming, attacks on schools and hospitals, sexual violence, child recruitment, denial of humanitarian access, and child abduction. The UN's List of Shame serves as an ethical accountability mechanism to halt severe violations affecting children during armed conflicts.

Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, stated, "The Secretary-General of the United Nations must include Israel in the 2024 List of Shame to send a clear message that the UN stands firmly for the protection of children's rights worldwide and will not tolerate violations against them. This would also convey that the UN deals uniformly with all parties involved in grave violations against children, regardless of the perpetrators' identities or the children's backgrounds."

Al-Mutawakel added, "Including Israel in the List of Shame is an urgent necessity to put an end to its severe and horrific violations and to protect the rights of Palestinian children. It is also crucial for maintaining the integrity and credibility of UN mechanisms, which are at risk of erosion due to double standards."

Since October 8, 2023, the Israel Defense Forces have killed approximately 15,162 children in the Gaza Strip and 124 children in the West Bank, while injuring around 6,828 Palestinian children, including about 6,168 in the Gaza Strip and around 660 in the West Bank. The Israeli occupation forces have also destroyed around 416 educational facilities, with 103 completely demolished and 313 partially damaged. Israeli military operations have led to the damage of approximately 25 hospitals and rendered about 33 hospitals non-operational, in addition to the destruction of 126 ambulances, according to the latest data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Furthermore, the Israeli government has obstructed the delivery of humanitarian aid, medical supplies, and essential goods necessary for the survival of the civilian population, including hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children. This is part of Israel's use of starvation as a weapon of war, as reported by Human Rights Watch, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, and various UN agencies and humanitarian organizations operating in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The repeated calls for Israel to be included in the UN's List of Shame are not limited to the severe violations committed by the Israel Defense Forces during the current conflict. Human rights organizations have been advocating for Israel's inclusion for many years, citing its involvement in horrific violations against Palestinian children in previous years. In 2015, reports emerged that Israel was to be included in the draft UN List of Shame, which was about to be released at that time. Human Rights Watch then urged the UN Secretary-General to resist pressures aimed at removing Israel from the draft list.

In an article titled "Israel's Shield," the Foreign Policy highlighted that the then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to remove Israel from the draft List of Shame. The combined pressures from the U.S. and Israel ultimately succeeded in keeping Israel off the list. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor described this outcome as "a harsh message to those seeking justice."

The calls for Israel to be included in the 2015 UN List of Shame coincided with the arrest of Palestinian child Ahmed Manasra. He was detained by Israeli forces on October 12, 2015, at the age of 13, in an unforgettable humanitarian incident where a broken-boned child was arrested while lying on the ground. In 2016, Israeli courts convicted him of attempted murder, sentencing him to 12 years in prison, later reduced to nine years. UN experts summarized this case in their July 2022 statement with the phrase, "We apologize for failing to protect you." They urged Israel to release Ahmed Manasra and emphasized that his case provides clear evidence of Israel's deliberate practices of subjecting Palestinians, including children, to arbitrary detention, torture, and inhumane treatment, often disguised as a legitimate counter-terrorism response.

On July 23, 2022, the UN Secretary-General issued his annual report on the promotion and protection of children's rights, confirming that the UN had verified approximately 2,925 grave violations committed by Israel against 1,208 Palestinian children. These violations included the detention of 637 children, the killing of 86 children, and the maiming of 1,121 children. The report also verified 128 Israeli attacks on hospitals and schools in Palestine and documented 1,582 incidents where Israel obstructed humanitarian aid in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

In June 2023, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the inclusion of the Russian Armed Forces in the List of Shame for committing grave violations against children during the war in Ukraine, which resulted in the death and maiming of about 658 children in 2022 and approximately 4,801 attacks on schools and hospitals. However, he did not include Israel in the UN List of Shame for the same year, despite Israel's 2,925 documented grave violations against children in 2022. Human Rights Watch described this omission as "sending conflicting messages about violations against children in armed conflicts."

Mwatana for Human Rights has urged the international community, states, and civil society organizations to take decisive action to ensure that Israel, as well as all parties implicated in grave violations against children in armed conflicts, are held accountable without exceptions or discrimination between perpetrators and victims. This is essential to safeguard all children from the horrors of armed conflicts, prioritize their rights and future, and ensure that violators are held accountable for their actions.