UN Children-and-Armed-Conflict Report Castigates Israel

by Hugh Fitzgerald

A UN report on “children in armed conflict” has just been submitted to the Security Council. It focuses on Israel, and relies heavily on anti-Israel NGOs for its contents. Naturally, those NGOs chose to demonize Israel in every way they could. The scandalously biased report is discussed here: “Watchdog Group Says UN Report on Children and Armed Conflict Biased Against Israel Due to NGO Influence,” Algemeiner, June 27, 2021:

A top watchdog group asserts that a new UN report on children in armed conflict that will be presented to the Security Council on Monday [June 27] is biased against Israel due to the involvement of “radical” NGOs in its formulation.

A review by NGO Monitor said of the Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) report to the UN Secretary-General that its allegations against Israel “primarily originate with a group of radical NGOs that belong to a ‘working group’ tasked by UNICEF with monitoring and advocacy on children’s issues. Together with UNICEF, they engage in a campaign to demonize Israel in the Secretary-General’s annual report.”

The group said that there is also an issue of disproportionate criticism of the Jewish state, which is driven by institutional pressures.

There are many conflicts all over the world where children are the victims, involving hundreds of times the number of those involved in Israel’s wars: the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, the revolt in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, the Boko Haram kidnappings and murders in Nigeria, the Chinese campaign, including re-education camps, against its own Muslim citizens in Xinjiang. But the U.N. report focuses obsessively on Israel.

“The relatively large number of NGOs active in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — enabled by significant funding from the EU, European governments, and others — leads to a selection bias: [the] UN receives and reports a high number of allegations against Israel because of NGO engagement,” the Israel-based group said. “Grave violations that occur in places with less NGO presence are underreported.”

More NGOs dedicate themselves to investigating the “crimes” of Israel than they do those of other countries – and in some cases, the NGOs spend more time on Israel than they do on all other states combined. These NGOs investigating Israel are better funded than other NGOs, with support both from the EU and from European governments. They then flood the UN with their reports on the misdeeds of the Jewish state; far less time and attention is given to places where the NGOs have a smaller presence than they do in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

NGO Monitor also criticized the report’s redefinition of the term “maiming” to include the inhalation of tear gas, which then amounts to 50% of the number of children the report claims have been maimed.

This redefinition has been used only in relation to Israel, it said.

No other state using tear gas has ever been accused of “maiming” those who inhale it. “Maiming” implies a permanent change; breathing in tear gas has effects – watery eyes, nasal passages inflamed, watering, burning, and redness of the eyes, blurred vision, burning and irritation in the mouth and nose, difficulty swallowing — that last only for 15-20 minutes. Apparently the report’s authors want us to believe that Israel’s tear gas is uniquely potent, somehow capable of permanently changing – “maiming” — those who breath it in.

The group [NGO Monitor] also challenged the report’s claim that detention of children is a “grave violation” of the CAAC framework, which it is not.

Nowhere in the CAAC documents is the detention of children – as when the IDF takes into brief custody Palestinian teens who have been throwing rocks and bottles at its soldiers — described as a “grave violation.” Yet the latest report submitted to the CAAC ignores that organization’s own definitions, and matter-of-factly describes such detention as a “grave violation” of the CAAC framework. That is flatly untrue.

Indeed, the number of violations in general, said NGO Monitor, is vastly inflated, as some 64% of the 1,031 alleged violations involve children who could not enter Israel for medical treatment, though Israel is not required to allow such entrances.

Nearly 2/3 – 64% — of the claimed “violations” of children’s rights in the report consist of their not being allowed to enter Israel for medical treatment. But Israel is not required to allow them in, as the CAAC surely knows, yet the report’s authors persist in describing this refusal by Israel to do what it has no obligation to do as a “violation” of “children’s rights.” And as a matter of fact, many Palestinian children are allowed into Israel for medical treatment (often given at no charge), but not those who have been throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers. But that good-samaritan behavior by Israel was left out of the report.

Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s Legal Advisor, said of the findings, “In order to formulate the best policies to protect children in armed conflict, the UN must provide accurate and consistent data. Unfortunately, because it is heavily influenced by NGOs promoting BDS, and some even linked to the [terrorist group] PFLP, like in previous years, the 2020 CAAC report is full of distorted claims and invented legal definitions regarding Israel.”

“The report also severely neglects the issues of Palestinian incitement and recruitment and use of child soldiers,” she said.

Palestinian schoolbooks are full of antisemitic incitements to attack Jews; children’s shows on Palestinian television show even tiny tots lisping their murderous hatred of Jews and making stabbing motions with their little knives. Children were encouraged to join the Great March of Return that began on March 30, 2018, and pushed forward to be at the front of the march. Once they reached near to the security fence, they were urged to participated with the adults in throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers on the other side. This abuse of children, incited, recruited, and used by the adult terrorists of Hamas, is totally ignored in the report submitted to CAAC.

The UN has a choice: it can continue to rely on radical NGOs and produce reports that have little impact in the conflict; or it can start employing accepted standards for fact finding, and be taken seriously by those who can implement change on the ground,” Herzberg asserted.

The UN can accept this one-sided report, which relies on information supplied by NGOs famously hostile to Israel, or it can reject it for its obsessive focus on Israel, and its malignant attempt to mislabel Israeli actions. Of course it will accept it; the UN can do no other. As noted above, the report describes Palestinian children’s exposure to tear gas as “maiming” – a definition that has been applied to no other use of tear gas by states or non-state actors, but only to Israel. “Maiming” implies a permanent change; the effects of tear gas dissipate in 15-20 minutes. Furthermore, the brief detention of Palestinian children who have been throwing rocks and bottles is not, according to the CAAC’s own definition, a “grave violation” of the rights of those children, yet the report just submitted to the UN calls that detention exactly that. Finally, two-thirds (64%) of the claimed “violations” of children’s rights in the report consist in Israel’s refusal to admit Palestinian children for medical treatment. Israel has no duty to do so, as the CAAC surely knows (even if the NGOs the report’s authors rely on claim otherwise); the refusal, consequently, to admit them does not constitute a “violation” of their rights. And the report fails to note that Israel does admit a great many Palestinian (and other Arab) children for medical treatment (often provided for free) – just not those who have been caught trying to harm Israeli soldiers.

In the end, this report will have no practical effect. It will be one more attempt to blacken the image of Israel — there have been, and will be, so many. At the UN the Israeli ambassador will reply, discussing the obsession with Israel of the NGOs that were relied on by the report’s authors; he will discuss the supposed “maiming”of children from tear gas, the meretricious identifying as a “grave violation” of children’s rights the practice of Israeli police and the IDF of briefly detaining children who have been throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. Perhaps a few diplomats’ minds will be changed. Not many. When it comes to Israel, minds are mostly made up, for and against. The decent countries – the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and two dozen others, mostly in Europe – will give the report the attention it deserves, by throwing it into the figurative dustbin. On the other hand, China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan will declare themselves mightily impressed with this indictment of Israel. Next year, or the year after, another such report will be commissioned by, and submitted to, and adopted by, the CAAC. The comedy continues. More countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem. More Arab states will join the Abrahamic Accords, and normalize their ties with Israel, and sign all kinds of deals with the Jewish state. Many more astounding Israeli medical advances – in the treatment of cancer, heart disease, eye ailments, hearing loss, MLS,, MS, diabetes, dementia – will be announced. So will Israeli advances in solar energy, million-mile batteries, electric vehicles, wastewater management, laser anti-missile defenses, cybersecurity, and a dozen other fields.

When it comes to these NGO-UN efforts to malign the Jewish state, it can yet again be thankfully concluded that, despite all those efforts, the dogs bark, the caravan moves on.

First published in Jihad Watch.


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