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UN agency under fire for staffers' tweet of bloody child

The United Nations touts the principle of impartiality, but one UN agency is finding itself in the crosshairs of an international scandal because of the political activism of a staff member.

The Israel Mission to the UN has formally requested that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) fire its national officer in Jerusalem, Khulood Badawi, because of her blatant anti-Israel activism. 

Last week, Badawi used Twitter to send a picture of a bloodied child in her father’s arms with a caption: “Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by Israel. Another father carrying a child into a grave in Gaza.”

The Twitter message, which was a huge hit, claimed that the Palestinian Arab girl had died from an Israeli airstrike the day before. The girl was either a car accident victim or was injured falling off a swing, according to reports. In his letter to OCHA Under-Secretary General Valerie Amos, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote: “The picture was taken and published in 2006 by Reuters, which reported that this child died in an accident. She was not killed by Israeli forces.”

Ambassador Prosor is calling for Badawi‘s immediate dismissal for the inflammatory tweet, writing, “Ms. Badawi stands in complete violation of articles 100 and 101 of the UN Charter.”

The articles state that UN staff “shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization.” Prosor claims that Badawi actions not only “violate conduct expected of a UN official,” but that she also “actively engaged in the demonization of Israel, a member state of the United Nations. Such actions contribute to incitement, conflict and, ultimately, violence.”

The Twitter account login that Badawi, an Israeli Arab citizen, uses is “Long live Palestine”. OCHA hired Badawi despite her record of pro-Palestinian activism, while OCHA’s own website espouses that “humanitarian actors must not take sides in hostilities or engage in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.”

In a response letter to Ambassador Prosor, obtained by Fox News, UN Under-Secretary General Amos wrote: “It is regrettable that an OCHA staff member has posted information on her personal Twitter profile, which is both false and which reflects on issues that are related to her work. The opinions expressed in her tweets in no way reflect the views of OCHA, nor has it been sanctioned by OCHA.” 

When asked what the UN intends to do about the matter, OCHA spokeswoman Amanda Pitt said, Badawi remains fully employed, while an “internal inquiry reviews whether any action needs to be taken on the staff member.”

Amid the Israeli government’s call for OCHA to fire Khulood Badawi, several pro-Palestinian websites have come to her defense, including Alternative News, which posts a petition to save her job. Badawi's defenders accuse the Israel government and the pro-Israel camp of launching a campaign to muzzle Badawi's voice for “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and documenting of “human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Badawi’s work as an OCHA field officer gives her the means to report from sensitive locations at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On March 19th, the OCHA Humanitarian Coordinator and the Head of Office in Jerusalem have an appointment to meet with officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel to discuss her activity.