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Israel accuses UN Secretary General of justifying terrorism with Hamas attack comment

ISRAELI OFFICIALS HAVE expressed outrage after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel “did not happen in a vacuum”, calling his comment justification for terrorism.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen cancelled a scheduled meeting with Guterres, while Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial centre, said the UN chief “failed the test”.

“I will not meet with the UN secretary-general. After the 7 October massacre, there is no place for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased off the face of the planet!” Cohen posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, yesterday.

Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, called for Guterres’ resignation, saying Israel must rethink its relations with the world body.

“We will refuse to grant visas to UN representatives. We have already refused to give one to Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths,” Erdan told Army Radio, accusing Guterres of justifying a slaughter. “It’s time to teach them a lesson.”

Israel has historically had tense relations with the UN, accusing it of being biased against it.

Yesterday Guterres addressed a special Security Council meeting on the Israel-Hamas conflict which was sparked by the militant group’s 7 October attack, which left at least 1,400 Israelis dead, and saw more than 220 taken hostage.

Israeli air strikes have destroyed large swathes of the Gaza enclave, leaving at least 6,500 Palestinians dead, including more than 2,700 children, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

The UN chief told the council that he “condemned unequivocally the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel”.

“Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians – or the launching of rockets against civilian targets,” he said.

But his contextualisation of the attack created an uproar in Israel.

It was important, Guterres said, to acknowledge that “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum”.

“The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. 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,” he said.

Guterres tweeted today writing: “The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the horrific attacks by Hamas. Those horrendous attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

But Israel was not mollified.

Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan said in a statement: “The slaughter of Jews by Hamas on 7 October was genocidal in its intents and immeasurably brutal in its form.”

He said it tests the sincerity of world leaders who went to Yad Vashem and pledged “Never again”.

”Those who seek to ‘understand’, look for a justifying context, do not condemn the perpetrators, and do not call for the unconditional and immediate release of the abducted, fail the test. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres failed the test.”