Hamas child-soldiers in Gaza. (AP/ Khalil Hamra) (AP/ Khalil Hamra)
Hamas youth camp

ISIS, al-Qaeda and…the IDF? UNICEF is seeking to add the IDF to a blacklist of entities that target children in conflict. 

By: United with Israel Staff

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is spearheading a campaign to have Israel included on a UN blacklist of “grave” violators of children’s rights.

NGO Monitor, the watchdog that exposed this scandal, explained that this political agenda is a primary facet of UNICEF’s activities relating to Israel, completely inconsistent with its mandate of “child protection” and its guidelines for neutrality and impartiality.

NGO Monitor said that UNICEF’s partners for this campaign are radical “advocacy” non-governmental organizations (NGOs)., which play an integral role in carrying out UNICEF’s anti-Israel campaign and receive substantial funding from UNICEF to do so.

The UN blacklist consists almost entirely of terror groups and militias from failed states.

“In essence, by pushing for the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) inclusion on the list, UNICEF and its NGO partners are claiming that Israel’s army is equivalent to ISIS [Islamic State], Boko Haram, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda,” NGO Monitor pointed out.

Terror-Linked NGOs

Several of the Palestinian groups involved, including Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), have reported links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), listed as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. This stands in contrast to UNICEF’s own guidelines.

Several UNICEF partners recommended inclusion of the IDF on the UN blacklist, but absurdly claimed they lacked sufficient evidence to recommend inclusion of the PFLP or the Hamas terror group.

While seeking to besmirch the IDF, UNICEF is simultaneously ignoring real crime committed by the Palestinians.

A key component of the UN’s Children and Armed Conflict campaign is to end the exploitation and use of children as combatants and child soldiers. Although Palestinian armed groups routinely use children in this way, there is little evidence that UNICEF funding is devoted towards exposing or ending this practice.

In fact, a UNICEF Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) bulletin admits that “in Gaza, the Working Group was not in a position to document cases of child recruitment and use of children in armed conflict owing to a number of factors, including security and protection risks related to collecting comprehensive and detailed information.”

“This admission of an inability to carry out the core mission of its UN mandate in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza calls into question the necessity and utility of continued funding for the agency in the region,” NGO Monitor said.

UNICEF’s BDS-Supporting Friends

Other UNICEF partners are NGOs that seek to marginalize Israel through BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions) initiatives.

One such contributor is the World Council of Churches’ EAPPI program, which is heavily involved in church-based BDS and whose non-professional volunteers purport to collect data for a UNICEF database.

UNICEF NGO partners publish misleading and false reports on the treatment of Palestinian minors involved in attacks and arrested by the IDF, rife with distortions and inaccuracies and devoid of necessary context. These same erroneous and unverified claims are then laundered through a UNICEF database to a variety of UN publications, lending them legitimacy and prominence, NGO Monitor charged.

Who is Paying for This?

UNICEF’s campaign is funded by the European Union and its member states, as well as Canada and Japan. NGO Monitor correspondence with some donor states indicates that the governments are unaware of the political NGOs that receive their funds or of UNICEF’s emphasis on advocacy targeting the IDF. Other donor states refused to answer NGO Monitor’s inquiries, highlighting the accountability and transparency deficit in UN funding.

UNICEF’s reporting on Israel is qualitatively different and more extreme than its reporting on other Middle East countries, NGO Monitor pointed out. Allegations of “widespread and systematic abuse” are meant to echo the definition of crimes against humanity in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. UNICEF does not employ similar language for other conflict zones.

As noted by one of the NGOs involved, inclusion of Israel on the CAAC blacklist would lead to the creation of an official “UN-mandated country task force” on Israel that would provide greater financial and other resources to UNICEF and its NGO partners to act against the Jewish state.

How to Fight This

Based on the findings of this report, NGO Monitor recommends that UNICEF cease all cooperation with NGOs with ties to terrorist organizations, including those with links to the PFLP.

NGO Monitor also urges UNICEF to further publicly retract and correct inaccurate claims made in UNICEF reporting on Israel, instructing UNICEF to disband the current working group and reinstate a new working group of impartial humanitarian organizations, professionals, and experts.

NGO Monitor recommends that donor governments review all funding to UNICEF projects to ensure that funds are used for relief and humanitarian purposes, not for anti-Israel activities.

Similar attempts to add Israel and the IDF to UN blacklists have failed in the past.

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