Rights group urges UN to add Israel to List of Shame

Human Rights Watch asks UN chief to resist pressure to keep the Israeli army off list of children’s rights violators.

Human Rights Watch says more than 500 Palestinian children were killed by Israelis forces in the Gaza war last year [Getty Images]

Human Rights Watch has urged the UN chief to add Israel to an annual List of Shame of children’s rights violators, after more than 500 children were killed in the Gaza war last year.

The US-based rights monitor called on Ban Ki-moon to resist pressure from Israel and the US to keep Israeli Defence Forces – the official name of the Israeli military – off the list due to be released next week.

“Secretary-General Ban can strengthen child protection in war by compiling his list based on facts, not political pressure,” Philippe Bolopion, crisis advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said on Thursday.

The monitor is also calling for the Palestinian group, Hamas, to be included as well as armed groups in Pakistan, Thailand and India for serious violations including attacks on schools and the recruitment of child soldiers.

The current list includes 51 groups including Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as well as the armed forces from eight countries such as Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Israeli group ‘breaks the silence’ over soldiers’ crimes

The 50-day conflict in the Gaza Strip last year killed 539 children, injured 2,956, and left most Palestinians to struggle with trauma and life-long disabilities, according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.

In another Israel-related development, the chairman of the French telecoms group Orange said on Wednesday that the company hoped to sever its ties with Israeli operator Partner, which has been criticised for its activities in the Palestinian territories.

At the end of May, five non-governmental organisations and two unions in France asked Orange to state publicly its willingness to sever its ties with Partner and denounce “attacks on human rights” they said the Israeli company had carried out.

They say Partner Communications Co has a licence from Orange to use its brand.

The report claims that Partner, operating in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, was contributing to their economic viability and to perpetuating a situation considered illegal by the international community.

When asked about this on Wednesday, Orange’s Stephane Richard said in Cairo that “our intention is to withdraw from Israel. It will take time” but “for sure we will do it”.

“I am ready to do this tomorrow morning … but without exposing Orange to huge risks.”

Orange has previously said it inherited the contract with Partner, in which it holds no shares or voting rights, and that it has no influence over the Israeli firm’s management and strategies.

Partner’s website showed no immediate reaction to Richard’s comments, but Globes, a business daily, quoted Haim Romano, Partner CEO, as saying that he “regretted what was said”.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, urged his country’s allies to proclaim that they oppose any sort of boycott.

“I call on the French government to publicly denounce the despicable statement and miserable actions of a company that is under partial French government ownership,” he said.

“At the same time, I urge our best friends to loudly proclaim that they are opposed to any sort of boycott against the state of the Jews. This absurd drama will not be forgiven.”

Source: News Agencies