Palestinian children wounded by Israeli airstrike on Al-Maghazi refugee camp at Gaza hospital

Palestinian children injured in Israeli attacks on Al-Maghazi refugee camp are brought to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on November 5, 2023.

(Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency)

'Historic, But So, So Late': Israel Added to UN's Child-Killing 'List of Shame'

"It took a genocide that killed 15,000 children and maimed and scarred thousands more but the U.N. has finally and rightly added Israel to its List of Shame," said one Palestinian observer.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres informed Israel on Friday that, for the first time, it is being added to the so-called "List of Shame" of countries that kill and injure children during wars and other armed conflicts, a decision that infuriated Israeli officials but was welcomed by human rights defenders as long overdue.

The Secretary-General Office's annual Children and Armed Conflict report—which is likely to be released publicly later this month—has included countries and militant groups such as Afghanistan, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Iraq, Islamic State, Myanmar, Russia, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. This is believed to be the first time the list has included a nation hailed by Western governments as a democracy.

"It took a genocide that killed 15,000 children and maimed and scarred thousands more but the U.N. has finally and rightly added Israel to its List of Shame," Palestinian political analyst Nour Odeh said on social media. "Arms embargo NOW!"

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "the U.N. has put itself on the blacklist of history today when it joined the supporters of the Hamas murderers."

"The IDF is the most moral army in the world and no delusional decision by the U.N. will change that," added the prime minister, who International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking to arrest along with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for alleged crimes including extermination.

This year's 2024 List of Shame will also include Hamas, which led the October 7 attack that left more than 1,100 Israelis and others dead, including 38 children. Around 30 minors were also kidnapped by Hamas, all of whom are believed to have been freed. Khan wants to arrest three leaders of Hamas, whose members are accused of extermination, rape, and other crimes.

In retaliation, Israel launched an assault and siege on theGaza Strip—now on its 244th day—killing more than 36,700 Palestinians including at least 15,000 minors, according to Palestinian and international agencies. Some children have allegedly been sexually abused and executedby Israeli troops.

More children were killed in Gaza in the first four months of the war than in four years of conflict worldwide, in what Philippe Lazzarini, who heads the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, called a "war on children... their childhood, and their future."

There are also tens of thousands of children among the more than 83,000 Palestinians wounded by Israeli bombs and bullets in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of children have been forcibly displaced by Israel's bombardment and invasion, but there's no safe place for them to go.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza and obliteration of its healthcare infrastructure have exacerbated what the U.N.'s top food official has called a "full-blown famine" in the north and widespread starvation throughout the strip. Dozens of children have starved to death.

Israel's conduct in the war is under investigation by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in a genocide case brought by South Africa and supported by more than 30 other nations and regional blocs.

The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) calls Gaza the most dangerous place in the world for children. The perils are not only physical; the annihilation of Gaza has also wrought tremendous psychological damage upon its children, many of whom have survived multiple Israeli campaigns.

According to UNICEF, more than 17,000 Gazan children are now orphans, with some having lost their entire families to Israeli attacks. International medical workers have coined a new acronym for these children: WCNSF, or, wounded child, no surviving family.

Between 2000 and the start of the Gaza war, Israeli forces killed more than 2,300 children throughout Palestine, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine. Prior to the current war, the highest number of Palestinian children killed in one year was 546 in 2014, when Israel carried out its Operation Protective Edge invasion of Gaza.

Despite all this killing, Israel was perennially given a pass from the List of Shame.

"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 U.N. mechanisms, which are at risk of erosion due to double standards," said Radhya Al-Mutawakel, who heads the Yemen-based group Mwatana for Human Rights.

Al-Mutawakel asserted that blacklisting Israel sends "a clear message that the U.N. stands firmly for the protection of children's rights worldwide and will not tolerate violations against them" and also conveys "that the U.N. deals uniformly with all parties involved in grave violations against children, regardless of the perpetrators' identities or the children's backgrounds."

Numerous Palestine advocates said Israel's inclusion on the list of shame underscores the urgency of halting shipments of weapons used to kill Palestinian children.

"Israel is a terrorist nation," said British union leader Howard Beckett. "Arms embargo. Sanctions. Hague."

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