UN Chief Criticizes Israel over Deaths of Children in Gaza
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday criticized Israel for the death and suffering of Palestinian children during last summer's conflict in Gaza, reiterating his demand for the Israeli regime to take immediate steps to prevent such killings.
The UN chief didn't address the reasoning behind his decision last week not to include Israel on his annual list of parties that kill or injure children in armed conflict in a speech to a Security Council meeting. That decision sparked protests from human rights groups and many in the Arab world and elsewhere.
The secretary-general's latest report said that in the Gaza conflict at least 561 children were killed — 557 of them Palestinians. It said 4,271 youngsters were injured, all but 22 Palestinians.
The 557 Palestinian deaths were the third-highest death toll of any conflict in 2014, after Afghanistan's with 710 child killings and Iraq's with 679 — but ahead of Syria's with 368.
While Ban kept Israel off the list, he kept up pressure on the Tel Aviv regime at the council meeting to present his report on children in armed conflict.
He expressed deep alarm at the Gaza killings and urged Israel to review its policies and practices and "respect the special protections afforded to schools and hospitals," AP reported.
In a letter to Ban circulated soon after his speech, Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor accused UN special envoy for children in armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, who worked on Ban's report, of "widespread, systematic and institutionalized biased conduct against Israel (which) undermines the credibility of the report."
Ban defended his report, saying the content "should speak for itself."
He said a debate is appropriate "but national interests should not cloud the objective at stake, which is protecting children."
Zerrougui also said she stood by the report. She told reporters that Israel has been included in the annual report since 2005, and the same working methods have been used and it never complained in the past.