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UN chief decries ‘misrepresentations ‘of his remarks on Hamas

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday rejected “misrepresentations” of his remarks a day earlier that Hamas’s October 7 massacre “didn’t happen in a vacuum,” decried by Israel as justifying terror, The Times of Israel reported.

The Times of Israel reported quoting Guterres, “I am shocked by misrepresentations by some of my statement yesterday in the Security Council — as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas.”

Addressing a Security Council session on Tuesday, the UN chief, again without naming Israel, had denounced “the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza.”

In remarks that especially outraged Israel, he had said it was important to “recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum” as the Palestinians have been “subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”

Guterres said Wednesday it was “necessary to set the record straight, especially out of respect for the victims and their families.”

“I spoke of the grievances of the Palestinian people. And in doing so, I also clearly stated, and I quote: ‘But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas.'”

Earlier, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan Wednesday said that his country will deny visas to the UN officials after remarks by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that appeared to justify Hamas’ assault on Israel, The Times of Israel reported.

“Due to his remarks we will refuse to issue visas to UN representatives,” Erdan tells Army Radio.
“We have already refused a visa for Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths,” Erdan said. “The time has come to teach them a lesson.”

Guterres angered Israelis during a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday when he said, “It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” claiming that “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.

“The Portuguese diplomat went on to say, “They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced; and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing.”

Hamas terrorists killed at least 1,400 Israelis and wounded more than 4,500 in a massive offensive launched from Gaza on October 7, which included the firing of thousands of rockets at Israel and the infiltration of the Jewish state by terrorist forces.

“Mr. Secretary-General, in what world do you live?” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen rebutted as he addressed the Security Council. “Definitely, this is not our world.”

Cohen cancelled a private meeting with Guterres, he subsequently announced on X. “I will not meet the UN secretary-general. After October 7, there is no place for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased from the world,” wrote the Israeli Foreign Minister.

In a post on X, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan called on Guterres to resign “immediately.”

“The shocking speech by the UN secretary-general at the Security Council meeting … proved conclusively, beyond any doubt, that the secretary-general is completely disconnected from the reality in our region and that he views the massacre committed by Nazi Hamas terrorists in a distorted and immoral manner,” Erdan said.

“His statement that ‘the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,’ expressed an understanding for terrorism and murder. It’s really unfathomable. It’s truly sad that the head of an organisation that arose after the Holocaust holds such horrible views,” the ambassador said.

Erdan urged Guterres to resign “immediately,” while sharing a post that called on the Jewish state to “rethink its relationship” with the international organisation.

Also Read: Israel calls for resignation of UN chief over remarks on action in Gaza