UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest list of parties that kill or injure children in armed conflict does not include Israel – as some U.N. officials had recommended – but the U.N. chief strongly criticized Israel for the “unprecedented and unacceptable” scale of its violence against young people.

Ban said in a report circulated Monday that the thousands of Palestinian casualties raise “grave concerns” about Israel’s compliance with international law, including requirements that any military actions must distinguish between combatants and civilians, be proportional, and avoid excessive use of force.

U.N. officials said the U.N. special envoy for children in armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, had recommended that both Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, be placed on the list of parties that recruit, use, kill, maim or commit acts of sexual violence against children. But the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the recommendation was not public, said there were differences of opinion among those on the ground on whether Israel should be listed – a key reason why it wasn’t and neither was Hamas.

Ban said in the annual report to the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly that the year 2014 saw a dramatic increase in violence against children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – at least 561 children killed and 4,271 injured, almost all Palestinians and the vast majority during last summer’s war in Gaza. It cites four Israeli youngsters killed and 22 injured.

The annual list is significant because it names and shames governments and insurgent groups that violate children’s rights in conflicts. The Security Council resolution that established the list in August 2009 states the council’s intention “to take action” – including possible sanctions – against repeat violators of international laws protecting children in armed conflicts.

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