Australia/Israel Review

UNICEF’s war on the IDF

Feb 9, 2018 | Liora Cohen

UNICEF's war on the IDF
UNICEF is supposed to remain neutral and independent to aid children

Liora Cohen


Anti-Israel activity at the United Nations is mainly associated with UNRWA and UNESCO.

UNRWA, the aid agency for Palestinian refugees, has a reputation for inciting to violence and perpetuating the Palestinians’ refugee status, while UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, consistently denies any Jewish links to Jerusalem.

But while the US was threatening to withhold funding from UNRWA as Israel watched closely, another UN agency, the International Children’s Fund – UNICEF – was making its own effort to delegitimise Israel.

New research by the non-profit watchdog group NGO Monitor reveals that “UNICEF Palestine” and other NGOs are working to add the IDF to a UN blacklist of organisations that violate children’s rights. This list mainly comprises terrorist organisations such as Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban.

Every year, the UN Secretary-General issues a report on “Children and Armed Conflict,” with an appendix listing groups that commit grave violations (such as using children as soldiers, systematically killing or wounding children and committing sexual violence against children). Since 2007, UNICEF has headed a working group of organisations charged with documenting supposed violations of Palestinian children’s rights. The group’s findings are plugged into UNICEF’s databases and quoted in various reports, including the Secretary-General’s. UNICEF pours millions of dollars into these tracking and reporting efforts.

UNICEF guidelines stipulate that members of the working group should remain neutral and independent of any side in the conflict. But the members of UNICEF Palestine fail to meet these criteria, with some of them belonging to extremist political groups. One is the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which, since 2015, has – along with four other organisations – filed four suits in the International Criminal Court accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The PCHR described the Sept. 25, 2017 terrorist attack in Har Adar, in which three Israelis were killed, in this way: “Israeli security forces killed Nimr Mahmoud Jamal… Border Police at the entrance to the Har Adar settlement opened fire on him. In addition, three Israeli soldiers were killed and a fourth was wounded.” (In fact, only one of the victims of the attacks was a soldier.)

An equally problematic group that receives UN funding is Adamir, which provides assistance to Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorist activities, whom it calls “political prisoners”. The group described last summer’s terrorist attack in Halamish, in which three members of the Salomon family were stabbed to death in their home, as “the Halamish operation, which ended with the killing of three Israeli settlers.”

The wording is no surprise, given that a number of members in the group have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The irony is that UNICEF has determined that “claims of human rights violations” must be made with care as they could “serve as a propaganda tool with which to slander others,” and warns that reports can be “biased toward one side.”

It is important to note that the reports from UNICEF Palestine are used as a platform by a broader campaign with the main goal being to accuse Israel of violating Palestinian children’s rights. The campaign is picking up steam in North America, Australia and Britain. This year, it seems likely to turn into a common cause for the organisations that try to delegitimise Israel.

Under a claim of objectivity, UNICEF is cooperating with actors that seek to promote an extremist agenda, mostly thanks to funding from foreign governments. The Israeli Government must demand a clarification from representatives of the governments that fund UNICEF on its ties to extremist organisations that are spearheading campaigns to delegitimise Israel, including the campaign to include the IDF on the same list as Islamic State.

Liora Cohen is a researcher at NGO Monitor, a watchdog group that promotes greater transparency among foreign-funded Israeli nongovernmental organisations. © Israel Hayom (, reprinted by permission, all rights reserved.



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