Becca Wertman

The UN’s Violations of the Rights of an Israeli Child

By UN standards, maybe it was a good report. 

On June 15, 2020, UN Secretary-General Guterres published his Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict. In notable contrast to the one-sided Israel bashing of many UN frameworks, the document actually details violations of the rights of Israeli children, alongside children from other situations of armed conflict taking place around the world.  

However, a careful reading reveals an egregious, disturbing factual error that effectively whitewashes Palestinian terrorism and continues the abuse of Israeli victims. In other words, maybe the report is as bad as every other UN publication.

In discussing grave violations in “Israel and the State of Palestine,” the Secretary-General’s report claims, “One Israeli girl was killed by an improvised explosive device in the occupied West Bank, attributed to unidentified perpetrators” (emphasis added). 

In fact, the Israeli girl, Rina Schnerb, was murdered by a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror cell. The specific identities of the alleged perpetrators of this grave violation have been known since December 2019 – some since October 2019 – and have been published multiple times in  readily available reports. 

Most notably, on December 19, Israeli authorities announced they had uncovered a 50-person PFLP terror network operating in the West Bank, responsible for the murder of the Israeli teenager, as well as other acts of violence. Among those arrested and subsequently indicted and currently standing trial are several employees of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – NGOs that partner with UN agencies in the region. 

For example, one of these individuals, Samer A’rbeed, is on trial for commanding the PFLP terror cell that carried out the bombing. According to the indictment against him, A’rbeed prepared and detonated the explosive device. He also served as an accountant for the NGO the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). His colleague Abdel Razeq Farraj, UAWC’s “Finance and Administration Director,” is indicted on charges related to authorizing the bombing.

Another of these individuals, Walid Hanatsheh, is on trial for allegedly being the leader of PFLP “military” operations and commanding the PFLP terror cell that carried out the bombing. According to the indictment against him, Hanatsheh bankrolled the bombing. Hanatsheh was Health Work Committees’ (HWC) finance and administration manager and is listed as a board member of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO). 

The UN cannot credibly claim that it is unaware of this pertinent information. After all, right after the attack, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN wrote to UN Secretary-General Guterres informing him that the minor was murdered by “Palestinian terrorists.” 

The UN has even acknowledged it was familiar with the identity of at least one of the perpetrators in an October 18, 2019 press release issued by three UN Experts, explaining that “…Israeli security forces arrested Mr. Al-Aʼrbeed outside his workplace in Ramallah on 25 September 2019. He was detained on suspicion of involvement in a bomb explosion that took place near the settlement of Dolev in the occupied West Bank in August 2019. A 17-year-old Israeli girl was killed and her brother and father were injured.”

The UN has committed a horrific error, compounding the crime that took place in August. By failing to name and shame the murderers of this young Israeli, perhaps out of concern for its terror-linked partners, the UN also fails to accurately monitor and report on the situation of armed conflict taking place in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The UN’s continued reliance on groups like UAWC and HWC, as well as at least six others with ties to the PFLP terror group, for partnerships and sources of information is not only immoral, but also compromises the UN’s ability to ensure that the rights of the child are protected. 

We can only hope that this shameful incident, once and for all, demonstrates to the UN the harm in partnering with terror-tied organizations. What is needed is both an amended report, as well as a fundamental reevaluation of the groups the UN selects as its allies. 

About the Author
Becca Wertman-Traub is the Director of Research at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, representing Jewish Federations across Canada. Becca previously worked for Member of Knesset Michal Cotler-Wunsh as her Political Aide in Israel's 23rd Knesset and served as managing editor and was responsible for the Canada portfolio at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute. Born in Vancouver, Canada, Becca earned her BA in international relations from the University of Southern California and her MA in political science from Columbia University. Her articles have appeared in The National Post, The Hill Times, The Jerusalem Post, and the Macdonald Laurier Institute, among others.
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