United Nations, Nov 16 (EFE).- Current and former leaders of human rights and child protection organizations sent an open letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres on Thursday, asking him to include the Israeli Defense Forces, Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades and Islamic Jihad on the list of perpetrators of grave violations against children in armed conflict, informally known as the “list of shame.”
The letter, which is still open for signatures, is signed by the current directors of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, and Human Right Watch, Tirana Hassan, two former directors of UNICEF (Carol Bellamy and Anthony Lake), and a dozen other current or former directors of child protection agencies.
Each year, the UN publishes the Secretary-General’s report on grave violations against children in armed conflict for the previous year, which includes a list of perpetrators of grave violations against children.
The signatories of Thursday’s letter recall that as of Nov. 7, Israeli shelling had killed 4,237 Palestinian children, accounting for 40 percent of civilian casualties, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, while the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad killed 31 Israeli children and took another 30 children hostage.
In addition, Israeli shelling has damaged 278 school buildings and 120 health facilities, and power cuts and fuel restrictions make it difficult to treat or transport sick or injured children in Gaza.
“Killing and maiming of children, abduction of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access are all grave violations against children in armed conflict,” the signatories note.
The open letter also reminds Guterres that the 2022 report “expressed concern” about a significant increase in violence against Palestinian children “as a result of Israeli airstrikes in 2021” and “the increase in the killing and maiming of children by Palestinian armed groups,” and “warned” that Israel and Palestinian armed groups would be added to the list if the situation didn’t improve.
At the time, some of the organizations whose leaders signed Thursday’s letter issued a statement expressing “disappointment with significant discrepancies” between “the evidence presented” in the 2022 report and “the perpetrators listed in the annexes,” and saying they were concerned that “Israeli government forces have never been listed in the annexes despite the UN finding them responsible for over 6,700 child casualties between 2015 and 2020.”
The 2022 report, published in June 2023, included Russian forces and associated groups after attributing to them the deaths of more than a hundred minors and the injury of more than half a thousand in 2022. EFE