UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should resist pressure from Israel and its allies to drop the Jewish state from an upcoming list of countries that violate children's rights, Human Rights Watch said Friday.
Ban's report to the Security Council, expected mid-June, lists parties to armed conflicts that have committed serious children's rights breaches including unlawful killings, attacks on schools, sexual violence, and recruiting children as soldiers.
"Secretary-General Ban can strengthen child protection in war by compiling his list based on facts, not political pressure," said Philippe Bolopion, UN director for the rights watchdog.
The call came amid media reports that Israel has pressured the UN chief to drop the Israeli army from the draft list, also known as the "List of Shame". Israel has denied the allegation.
Foreign Policy magazine reported Monday that the U.S. government has also lobbyied Ban on Israel's behalf.
Human Rights Watch said it documented a number of children's rights violations by Israeli forces in 2014, including the deaths of Palestinian children from unlawful Israeli attacks in Gaza last summer and the attacks on UN-facilitated schools in the coastal enclave.
More than 2,100 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed and nearly 11,000 injured during seven weeks of Operation Protective Edge last July and August.
The UN confirmed that at least 44 Palestinians were killed and 220 injured by Israel's attacks on seven UN facilities including schools during the 51-day assault.
"The integrity and impact of the Secretary-General's report is damaged when repeat-offenders are left off the list," Bolopion said. "Failure to include countries and groups that are known offenders will harm a report that's been a powerful tool to protect children in war."
The watchdog also recommended listing Palestinian faction Hamas, as well as armed groups in Pakistan, Thailand, and India for violations against children, including attacks on schools and the recruitment of child soldiers.