UN lets Israel’s child killers off the hook again

A wreath stands in the place of Faris al-Sarsawi at his school in Gaza City on 7 October 2018. The 13-year-old was fatally shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper two days earlier.

Ramadan El-Agha APA images

Human rights defenders are slamming UN Secretary-General António Guterres for leaving Israel off an official list of the world’s worst abusers of children’s rights.

On Tuesday, the UN released the secretary-general’s annual report on children in armed conflict.

It finds that a record 12,000 children were killed or maimed in wars around the world in 2018.

But Human Rights Watch notes that Guterres “omitted countries responsible for grave violations against children in armed conflict in his new ‘list of shame.’”

The group notes that the list leaves off the Israeli military, the Afghan National Army and US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

“The UN secretary-general simply refuses to hold to account all warring parties that have inflicted tremendous suffering on children,” Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said.

“By listing selected violators but not others, Secretary-General Guterres is ignoring the UN’s own evidence and undermining efforts to protect children in conflict.”

Indeed, evidence of Israel’s crimes is in the secretary-general’s report: Israeli occupation forces killed 56 Palestinian children in 2018. An Israeli settler killed a 57th.

That is a four-fold increase over the number of children Israel killed the previous year.

More than 30 of the children killed last year were shot dead in Gaza, as Israel unleashed snipers to deliberately target unarmed civilians with lethal force in the context of Great March of Return protests.

Nine out of 10 “were shot by live ammunition to the upper body, while reportedly posing no imminent threat of death,” the UN report states.

More than 2,500 Palestinian children were injured in 2018, more than double the number the previous year, the UN found.

An Israeli general, Zvika Fogel, admitted openly that Israeli soldiers were under orders to aim their rifles at the “small body of a child.”

An independent UN commission of inquiry called for Israeli officials to be sanctioned and brought to justice over suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

“[Israeli forces] have intentionally shot children, they’ve intentionally shot people with disabilities, they’ve intentionally shot journalists, knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists,” Sara Hossain, one of the investigators appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, said.

The new UN report documents other widespread violations of Palestinian children’s rights by Israel including arrests, detention and mistreatment, and disruption to their education.

Favoring the powerful

Human Rights Watch also faults Guterres for favoring other powerful states.

“Although he listed the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, he once again included the coalition in a category of parties taking steps to improve, despite overwhelming evidence that coalition forces killed and harmed children on a large scale in 2018,” the group said.

Some 1,700 children were killed or maimed in Yemen last year, according to the UN report.

Save the Children notes that half of the child casualties “were a result of attacks by the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition, in addition to 15 attacks on schools and hospitals.”

By leaving Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates off the list of shame, Guterres is “failing to hold the coalition to account for yet another year of bombing children in their homes and schools,” Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles said.

“This decision shows that the secretary-general has placed politics before children, and that states with powerful friends can get away with destroying children’s lives with impunity.”

Bullying and pressure

In 2015, Ban Ki-moon, then UN secretary-general, caved in to pressure from the US and Israel and removed Israel from the list of shame.

In doing so, Ban rejected an official recommendation from his own special representative for children and armed conflict and numerous human rights organizations and child rights defenders.

Ban’s act was particularly egregious since that year’s report found that the number of children killed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2014 was 557 – the third highest only after Iraq and Afghanistan and ahead of Syria.

The bullying to which Ban yielded seems to have had a lasting effect.

His successor appears just as willing to shield Israel and other powerful parties from accountability for their crimes.




How did Gutteres get appointed? How can the UN be truly independent and hold the powerful to account when the powerful have so much influence over its officials? Career diplomats, who are the people who usually get the important jobs in the UN, aren't, by and large, likely to have let go of the greasy pole. The UN is dominated by big powers, which on the surface looks rational, but in fact permits a minority of the world's population to have the largest influence. It would be foolish to turn away from the UN but it needs significant reform if it is going to stop taking decisions which let the powerful off the hook.
Shooting children in the upper body, well that's the action of heroes isn't it? You'd think the IDF was playing Fortnite: Head shots do damage:aim for the head. You could probably distract those kids by firing lollipops or aniseed balls at them. Perhaps someone should retrain the IDF, equip them with catapults and sugar-coated ordinance. But we shouldn't be surprised that the Israelis shoot Palestinian children. It wouldn't be surprising if they shot white phosphorous at Palestinian sparrows or beetles. It has always been Zionism's ambition to take over at least the whole of Palestine. It has always been their belief that the land is theirs by genetic endowment. Ethnic cleansing is at the heart of Zionism. As Ben Gurion charmingly put it, "Palestinians are Arabs who happen to be in Palestine." Just like the North American native people were Redskins who happened to be in North America. Just like Africans were monkeys Henry Morton Stanley shot at will. The mistake is always the same: genetic superiority. The great delusion. There are no superior "races" or groups. There is one species and the assumption of superiority is a mental aberration. No one was granted rights over any part of the earth by a deity of any kind. What powers Israeli oppression, like all such oppression, is primitivism. Shooting children is savagery.


Guterres is, simply put, a corrupt guard for the powerful countries and personalities that wish to control the narrative. He makes sure that no information gets out that would show the general public what acts those countries commit, so that their reputations remain unsullied. This is a very well regarded operation for those countries involved and I'm sure the S.G. is well rewarded for his actions. If he didn't comply with the wishes of the powerful, he knows that he wouldn't be in the job for very long. There are always those who can be 'persuaded'.


This is very disappointing to read. The kids didn't know anything and they have a bright future ahead but they killed the children like livestock. Very inhumane UN should not tolerate this kind of events UN should take action ASAP. www.treeservicesfortcollins.com