UN report welcomes input from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad

The report accuses Israel of being responsible for thousands of violations against children.

By Andrew Bernard, The Algemeiner

The UN Secretary-General’s new report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) welcomed letters and “practical measures” from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

The annual CAAC report, dated 5 June but first published on Tuesday, accuses Israel of being responsible for thousands of violations against children while only explicitly mentioning Hamas to praise its cooperation with the UN.

“I welcome the letters received from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and from Hamas, the appointment of focal points and the identification of practical measures, including those proposed by the United Nations to end and prevent grave violations against children, including those related to the killing and maiming and the recruitment and use of children,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report said.

The report, which covers violations against children under the age of 18 through 2022, attributes the vast majority of such violations to Israel. Of the 1142 children who were killed, maimed, or required medical assistance after inhaling tear gas, the report says that 975 were caused by the Israeli security forces.

“Most children were maimed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in the context of Israeli forces’ law enforcement operations (473). The main causes of maiming by Israeli forces were live ammunition (153), rubber-coated metal bullets (136) and strikes in Gaza (44),” the report says.

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Despite Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad regularly recruiting teenagers and holding training camps for even younger children, the report does not separate out children who were themselves armed members of militant groups.

Asked at a Tuesday press conference for the report’s release about whether the figures for Palestinian children who were killed, wounded or detained should distinguish teenage militants, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba said that it was “regrettable” but immaterial to the report.

“A child is a child is a child, including when they are perpetrators of violence,” Gamba said. “We cannot make a distinction between children that are fighting against armed forces. We think it’s regrettable. We understand the situation. We’ve had this in many situations….A violation will be recorded, even if it’s the killing, maiming or detention of a child that is found guilty of some type of violence or perpetration of an act.”

Last year’s CAAC report concluded that if the high number of violations were repeated and “meaningful improvement” were not observed in the behavior of Hamas, PIJ and other Palestinian militant groups, then those groups should be listed in the report’s annex of actors that commit grave violations against children, sometimes known as the Secretary-General’s “Black List” or “List of Shame.”

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Tuesday’s report makes no such mention of potentially listing Hamas and PIJ despite accusing them of “indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars from densely populated areas in Gaza towards Israeli civilian population centres” along with the verified discovery of a Palestinian militant tunnel under a school in Gaza.

The UN did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment about what “meaningful improvement” or reduction in violations Hamas and PIJ have made, what Palestinian group may have been responsible for the tunnel, or other questions about the report.