The Palestinian death toll from ongoing Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip has soared to 6,546.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has rejected Israel’s “misrepresentations” of his remarks after he condemned Tel Aviv at the for its “clear violations of international law” during a Security Council meeting.
“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,” Guterres told reporters on Wednesday after a wave of outrage by the Israeli government.
Addressing the issue, Guterres on Wednesday said 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.’”
A day earlier, in what was Guterres’ toughest address on the ongoing war in Gaza, the UN chief stated that there were clear violations of international humanitarian law but fell short of mentioning Israel by name.
“I am deeply concerned about the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza. Let me be clear: No party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law,” Guterres said in the UN Security Council session.
Guterres also noted that Palestinians have been “subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation” in his address and said the unprecedented Hamas October 7 operation “did not happen in a vacuum.”
Those comments appeared to outrage Israeli officials.
In response, Israel’s UN representative, Gilad Erdan threatened to teach the UN a lesson. “Due to his remarks, we will refuse to issue visas to UN representatives,” Erdan said.
“We have already refused a visa for Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths. The time has come to teach them a lesson”, the Israeli spokesmen added, calling on the UN chief to resign.
The ongoing dispute between the two parties comes as the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) sounded the alarm on the humanitarian conditions in Gaza, which has faced 20 days of brutal Israeli bombardment that has killed more than 6,546 Palestinians.
“Aid deliveries entering Gaza have not included fuel,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
“The UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, tells us that they will exhaust their fuel reserves within Gaza in the coming days,” Dujarric added.