UN secretary-general says Hamas attacks didn't just happen, suggests Israel's rule of Gaza factor

His remarks resulted in Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan calling on Guterres to resign. 

Published: October 24, 2023 3:12pm

Updated: October 24, 2023 4:16pm

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said Tuesday the Hamas attacks on Israel didn't just "happen," apparently trying to justify the deadly strikes as a consequence of decades of "suffocating" Israeli rule in Gaza – from where the attacks were launched.

"It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum," Guterres said during a meeting of the Security Council. "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."

His remarks resulted in Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan calling on Guterres to resign. 

"The @UN Secretary-General, who shows understanding for the campaign of mass murder of children, women, and the elderly, is not fit to lead the UN," Erdan wrote on X. "I call on him to resign immediately. 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. There are simply no words."

According to Fox News Digital, this is the first time an Israeli ambassador has called on a sitting UN secretary-general to step down.

During his speech, Guterres noted that he has condemned the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel that led to multiple civilian casualties and that the situation in the Middle East is escalating quickly. 

"But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas," Guterres said, according to the transcript. "And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."

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