gaza children
Palestinian children gather outside a United Nations-run school acting as a shelter for residents who have fled their homes, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza StripReuters

Israel and Hamas have been left off a U­N blacklist of states and armed groups that violate children's rights during conflicts.

However, a report by Leila Zerrougui, the organisation's special envoy for children and armed conflict criticised Israel over its 2014 operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. She had originally wanted to put Israel and Hamas on the list that included Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Myanmar and Yemen.

After an intervention by secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, neither Israel nor Hamas was included.

But, his report said: "The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of the impact on children in 2014 raises grave concerns about Israel's compliance with international humanitarian law ... [and] excessive use of force."

Israelis give cautious welcome, Hamas scathing

Israel's ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor gave a cautious welcome to the report. He said: "The UN secretary-general was right not to submit to the dictates of the terrorist organisations & Arab states in his decision not to include Israel in this shameful list."

But, he noted: "The "UN still has a long way to go."

Emmanuel Nahshon, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "Israel acted to defend its residents from attacks by a murderous terrorist group, which has no qualms about placing Palestinian civilians, including children, in the line of fire."

And Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum criticised the UN for keeping Israel off the list and for the Islamist militia with the Jewish state.

Ban said that in conflicts in Central African Republic, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria, "children were affected to a degree which is an affront to our common humanity".

The report said 710 children were killed in Afghanistan, 679 in Iraq, 557 Palestinian children died, 368 in Syria, and 197 in Darfur, Sudan.