Israel condemns UN move to blacklist IDF for harming children

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The UN has added the Israeli military to a list of offenders failing to protect children last year, Israel’s ambassador to the UN says.

Gilad Erdan, who said he had been notified of the decision on Friday, described the decision as “shameful”. Foreign Minister Israel Katz it would “have consequences for Israel’s relations with the UN”.

A spokesman for the Palestinian president told the Reuters news agency the decision was a step closer to holding Israel accountable for its crimes.

Thousands of children have been killed in Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza, and thousands more are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

The annual list by the secretary general covers the killing of children in conflict and denial of access to aid and targeting of schools and hospitals. It will be included in a report to be presented to the UN Security Council next week.

It was not immediately clear which violations the Israeli army is accused of committing.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will also be included in the list, reports said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the UN had added itself to the “blacklist of history” and that the Israeli military was the “most moral army in the world”.

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas attacked communities near Gaza on 7 October last year, killing about 1,200 people including 38 children and taking 252 hostages including 42 children, according to Israel’s National Council for the Child.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says 36,731 people have since been killed by Israeli bombardment and ground attacks, but the figures have come under intense scrutiny.

Last month, the UN said at least 7,797 children had been killed during the war based on data relating to identified bodies provided by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

Also last month, the UN revised down the proportion of reported fatalities that were women and children from 69% to 52% of the total number of deaths.

Israel said the reduction showed the UN had relied on false data from Hamas. The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza meanwhile says Israeli attacks have killed more than 15,000 children.

On Friday, the Associated Press news agency said its analysis of Gaza’s health ministry data found that the proportion of Palestinian women and children being killed in the Israel-Hamas war appeared to have declined sharply.

It quoted an expert at the US non-profit research group CNA as saying this was linked to reduced intensity of Israeli air strikes.

However Israeli air strikes on Gaza have continued. On Thursday morning an air strike reportedly killed at least 35 people at a central Gaza school packed with displaced people. The US said it had seen reports that 14 children were killed in the strike. Israel has named 17 Hamas members it says the strike killed.

In the strike’s aftermath, medics from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) which is supporting the nearby al-Aqsa Martyrs’ hospital described chaotic scenes there. The organisation said that in the previous 24 hours, at least 70 dead people had been brought in, and more than 300 wounded, mostly women and children.

Last month an Israeli missile last month set fire to a camp for displaced Palestinians near the southern city of Rafah, reportedly killing 45 people including many children and sparking global outrage. The Israeli military said it had not expected such a fire to break out.

Israel has also been accused of delaying the entry of much-needed aid into Gaza, depriving those living on the Palestinian territory of clean water, food, medicines as well as fuel. It denies the accusation and accuses UN bodies and humanitarian organisations of failing to distribute aid that is allowed in.

The US-based famine early warning system network Fews Net says it is “possible, if not likely” that famine was happening in northern Gaza in April and an Israeli military operation in Rafah in southern Gaza was worsening food insecurity there.

That operation has displaced more than a million Palestinians from Rafah, where they had sought refuge from fighting elsewhere in Gaza, and to sandy coastal areas or the city of Khan Younis, which is largely in ruins.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees Unrwa says the movement of such a large number of people in such a short timeframe alongside a sharp fall in aid deliveries is having deadly consequences.

“Children are dying due to malnutrition and dehydration,” Unrwa spokeswoman Juliette Touma said.

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