Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations is calling for the resignation of UN Secretary-General António Guterres after he said the Hamas attack on October 7 in which 1,400 people were killed “did not happen in a vacuum.”
“The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” Guterres said, according to Israeli outlet Haaretz, to the 15-member U.N. Security Council Tuesday after the Hamas-led Ministry of Health in Gaza reported more than 700 Palestinians were killed in 24 hours of Israeli airstrikes, the highest daily death toll since the bombardment began.
“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinian territories — which are the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to East Jerusalem — are widely recognized as occupied by Israel.
After the statement, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan called Guterres’ speech “shocking” on X, formerly Twitter, saying “the Secretary-General is completely disconnected from the reality in our region.”
“There is no justification or point in talking to those who show compassion for the most terrible atrocities committed against the citizens of Israel and the Jewish people,” he added on the social media platform.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced on X he would no longer meet with Guterres.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki also spoke to those assembled Tuesday, both appealing for mitigating harm to civilians in Gaza. More than 5,700 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes since the war began, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza, the New York Times reported.
More than 2 million Palestinian people live in Hamas-run Gaza, which has been under an air, land and sea blockade imposed by Israel since 2007, strictly limiting the movement of goods and people. Since the Israel-Hamas war began this October, Israel has enforced a “complete siege” on the territory, cutting off fuel, electricity and water to a population largely reliant on humanitarian aid.
Guterres described the 50 or so aid trucks that have traveled across from the Rafah border crossing with Egypt since Saturday “a drop of aid in an ocean of need.”
On Monday, the European Union’s foreign ministers failed to reach a unanimous recommendation calling for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid to reach Palestinians in Gaza even as a majority of those assembled agreed to call for one.
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