The following statement was issued by Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations regarding the annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC):
We deeply regret the Secretary-General’s decision to exclude Israel from the list of parties who commit grave violations against children in armed conflict. This decision strikingly contradicts the UN’s own evidence and the set criteria on this matter. It is without doubt that Israel, the occupying Power, flagrantly, systematically and grossly commits human rights violations against Palestinian children constituting grave violations that qualify it for such a listing in the annex to the Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC).
Evidence demonstrates a pattern of Israeli killing and maiming of children, attacking schools and hospitals, and preventing humanitarian access, among other human rights violations against children in Occupied Palestine, including for example the arrest, detention, interrogation and torture of hundreds of children. During last summer’s Israeli aggression against Gaza alone, occupying forces launched attacks against 279 schools and 75 health centers and hospitals causing widespread civilian casualties. At least 535 Palestinian children were killed as a direct result of such Israeli attacks and another 3,374 children were injured in those attacks and in other indiscriminate bombardments of civilian areas. One thousand of those children injured have been disabled for life.
UN agencies, such as UNRWA and UNICEF, and other international organizations on the ground, among them Israeli organizations, have clearly documented these grave violations. Successive reports by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for CAAC have also documented the pervasive insecurity and protection crisis being suffered by Palestinian children due to Israel’s constant aggressions against the Palestinian people under its military occupation and its blatant violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law.
Lack of accountability for such crimes has encouraged Israeli disrespect for the law and the perception that it is a State above the law. The failure to list Israel as a violator of child rights, when it so clearly meets the criteria, will only further embolden such impunity, resulting in more suffering for innocent Palestinian children. The UN’s inaction, submitting to the inordinate pressures exerted, sends a most regrettable signal that the same criteria do not apply in all situations for all children, undermining the credibility of the UN system as a whole and the CAAC mechanism in specific.
Israel’s crimes against our children will only cease when Israel’s illegal and cruel occupation of the State of Palestine ends. We reiterate our urgent appeals to the international community to act to help protect Palestine’s children, including by demanding Israel’s full compliance with its obligations under international law without exception and demanding an immediate end to its nearly half century occupation of the Palestinian land and subjugation of the Palestinian people. It is time to bring an end to the cycle of impunity and achieve a just and lasting solution that fulfills the inalienable rights and national aspirations of the Palestinian people and ensures peace, security and dignity for all.