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On Children & War, Ban Criticized, Israel Replies in Arabic, Donbas

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decided not to list Israel or Hamas in the annex of his Children and Armed Conflict report -- nor the French troops alleged to have raped children in the Central African Republic -- on June 18 Ban came to the UN Security Council media stakeout, accompanied by CAAC expert Leila Zerrougui. He left it to her to answer. Inner City Press covered that, and later speeches.

  After Ban read a statement about climate change and then the "controversy" about his report, he said he had to leave. There were some grumbles; Inner City Press asked, about the Central African Republic rapes and cover up, what about the Panel? Ban did not answer. Periscope video for now here.

 In later speeches, many criticized Ban for the omission and urged him to reverse it. Israel on the other hand said without "attention to intention," the CAAC office ill-served children.

  Australia called for the Security Council's South Sudan sanctions committee to start listing people. Myanmar sung its own praises. Palestine, whose stakeout Inner City Press missed, said this:

  “We come before the Security Council anguished by the Secretary-General's decision to exclude Israel from the list of parties committing grave violations against children in his annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict (S/2015/409). Israel, the occupying Power, is without doubt a flagrant violator of child rights. Israel systematically commits crimes against Palestinian children, its actions contravening its obligations under human rights law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and international humanitarian law, which obligates the occupying Power to ensure the well-being and safety of the civilian population under its occupation.

  “Evidence verified by the United Nations and numerous human rights organizations affirms that Israel continues to kill and maim children, attack schools and hospitals, and prevent humanitarian access, with devastating impact on the rights, lives and well-being of Palestinian children. These facts are well documented in the current report and similar past reports.

  “According to the established criteria, such actions would trigger a listing among the grave violators identified in the report's annex. And, yet, Israel was not included in that list as pressures were again blatantly exerted to shield it from censure and measures of accountability. This glaring omission and failure to hold Israel responsible for its crimes comes at heavy cost to our innocent children, who are being denied the protection of the law, their rights violated, their suffering deepened and their lives, dreams and futures shattered, without consequence.

  “Israel's brutality increased against Palestinian children in 2014, causing the 3rd highest number of child fatalities in armed conflicts worldwide. As reported, at least 557 Palestinian children were killed, the majority in the Gaza Strip during the Israeli military assaults of July-August 2014, including 340 boys and 200 girls, from babies of one week old to 17 years old.

“Israel must be held accountable for its crimes. We are convinced that only collective international action can compel it to cease its violations and respect the law. Our pursuit of accountability and commitment to international law are evident in our accession to the Rome Statute and other international treaties. While the Israeli Government continues to demonstrate in word and deed that it has no interest in peace and the rule of law, insistent on denying the Palestinian people their rights and entrenching its occupation, the Palestinian leadership remains committed to peace. To salvage the prospects for peace, we implore the international community, with the Security Council at the forefront, to act to uphold international law and UN resolutions towards ending Israel's illegal occupation and achieving freedom and justice for the Palestinian people. Until then, we again appeal for protection of the Palestinian people, beginning with our children."

 At the end there were only four rights of reply, or "further statements" as they are called in the Security Council.

  Israel shot back - in Arabic; Russia took on Georgia and Ukraine, which is said is hurting children in Dongas. Both counties did their replies and that that was it. Inner City Press chatted with a tired Zerrougui as she left, even as the doors to the Security Council stakeout were locked.

  Zerrougui stayed, gamely; she declined to answer about the non-inclusion of Israel. Inner City Press asked her about the CAR rapes and cover up. She said while she didn't find out all in time, once she did, she spoke with the government concerned. Periscope here.

  Inner City Press reported exclusively that Zerrougui met French Ambassador Francois Delattre -- his Mission declined to confirm or deny, when asked in writing by Inner City Press - but what has come of it? Watch this site.

   Sources tell Inner City Press that Zerrougui is slated to be leaving her post, to one at the African Union. Cynics told Inner City Press that's why she went semi-public with her recommendation, which Ban ignored. Supporters said she should stay and fight. We'll see.

  And what of the CAR rapes by the French troops? They are mentioned in the text of the report, but not in the Annex. Ban said a Panel would be set up- but hasn't yet done it.

 Inner City Press is exclusively informed that concerned member states will meet not with Ban but his Deputy Jan Eliasson on June 19. Some are concerned Ban might even try to put Eliasson on the "independent" panel, despite controversy about an August 8, 2014 email saying Eliasson would be briefed that afternoon about the CAR rapes. (The UN now says Eliasson didn't learn of them until April 2015.)  We'll see.

  Back on June 8 both Palestine and Israel issued statements, below. Inner City Press beyond reporting on each asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric why the French Sangaris force in the Central African Republic, regarding which the UN has evidence of sexual abuse against children as young as nine years told, is not on Ban's list. This remains UNclear.

    Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, issued a statement that “we deeply regret the Secretary-Generals 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.. 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.”

  The “pressure exerted” included the United States, which also got Ban to cancel the Yemen talks that had been slated for May 11, click here for that Inner City Press exclusive. Likewise, despite a UN Dispute Tribunal ruling that UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous asked for CAR rape whistleblower Anders Kompass to resign, nothing has been done with regard to Ladsous, the four Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping. It is not only on CAAC that Ban gives in to inordinate pressure.

   Israel's Ron Prosor put out a statement that “the UN Secretary General was right not to submit to the dictates of the terrorist organizations and the Arab states, in his decision not to include Israel in this shameful list, together with organizations like ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. However, the UN still has a long way to go. Instead of releasing thousands of reports and lists against Israel, the UN must unequivocally condemn the terrorist organizations that operate in the Gaza Strip. I call on the Secretary General to put an end to the destruction these organizations cause the people of Gaza, when they obstruct humanitarian aid, fire from civilian population centers and use innocents as human shields. Only after these organizations are recognized as terrorist organizations and condemned, can we promote real solutions.”

    Ban's spokesman Dujarric, before Inner City Press asked him about the French Sangaris force in CAR, told reporters to not worry so much about the list. Really? Others, reporting on this, did not mention the French forces' sexual abuse. We'll have more on this.

Back on June 1 In the run up to Ban's decision on whether to include Israel in the UN's list of those abusing children in armed conflict, Inner City Press asked Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, for his view.

  Krahenbuhl diplomatically said he'd have no comment until after the decision is made.

 And now?


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