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UN adds Israel and Hamas to list of countries and organizations endangering children in war zones

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UN officials said the United Nations will include Israel and Hamas in the list of countries and armed groups that harm children when it releases its annual report on children and armed conflict, citing the heavy toll the Gaza war has taken on minors, including killings, maiming and starvation.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the agency’s chief of staff called Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan on Friday to inform him that Israel would be added to the list this year. “This call is a courtesy to the new countries added to the list,” Dujarric said, “the purpose is to let countries know in advance and avoid leaks.”

U.N. officials said Hamas, the militant group that led Gaza before the war, will be named in the report because its fighters kidnapped and killed Israeli children during an attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Militant groups such as the Taliban and Boko Haram that harm children in conflict usually appear in the annual report.

The news of Israel’s inclusion on the sanctions list further exacerbated already deteriorating relations between Israel and the United Nations.

Mr Erdan called the move an “immoral decision that aids terrorism and rewards terrorists”. He recorded a video of the phone call and Posted some of the content on social media site X.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric called the release of the phone recording “shocking and unacceptable, something I have never seen in my 25 years at the UN.”

The annual report by the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict is prepared under a mandate from the General Assembly and the Security Council. Mr. Dujarric said the report will be presented to Council members next Friday and publicly released on 18 June. The Council will hold an open debate on the report’s findings later this month.

On October 7, Hamas launched a terrorist attack in which militants kidnapped children, some of them toddlers and infants, and held them hostage in Gaza. Children were also among the approximately 1,200 Israelis and foreigners killed.

Gaza health officials say Israel’s retaliatory bombing and ground war on Gaza has killed at least 36,000 people, mostly women and children. The United Nations says children in Gaza are also facing famine and starvation as Israel restricts humanitarian aid. Many children have also lost limbs or been severely injured in other ways.

Majid Bamiya, Deputy Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations In a post by X, “Only Israeli ministers were surprised by this development after so many Palestinian children had been killed and maimed (the list will be published next week).”

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