Israel reacts with outrage following statements made by UN Secretary-General António Guterres about the war in the Middle East. Guterres had spoken of a “suffocating occupation” of the Palestinians and violations of international law by Israel. Now there are calls for a resignation.
The Middle East war has led to a furious confrontation between Israel and UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the UN Security Council. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen attacked Guterres on Tuesday at an open session of the United Nations’ most powerful body for comments critical of Israel. “Mr. Secretary General, what world do you live in?” asked Cohen, who vividly described the October 7 attack on Israel by the radical Islamic group Hamas. “This is definitely not our world.”
Cohen particularly pointed out Guterres’ Sharply rejects the connection between the violence perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli civilians and the occupation. With its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Israel left the area to the Palestinians “down to the last millimeter,” said the minister.
The Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan even called on Guterres to resign in the short message service X (formerly Twitter). The UN Secretary General gave a “shocking speech” and expressed “understanding of terrorism and murder”. “The UN Secretary General, who shows understanding for the plan to mass murder children, women and the elderly, is not suitable to lead the UN,” Erdan wrote. “I call on him to resign immediately.”
Guterres: Palestinians suffer from ‘suffocating occupation’
At the UN Security Council meeting, Guterres once again strongly condemned the Hamas attack on Israel. But he also said that the attacks by the radical Islamic Palestinian organization “did not occur in a vacuum.” The Palestinians have suffered from “suffocating occupation” for 56 years.
Guterres also warned of “collective punishment” of Palestinians after the Hamas attack and denounced “clear violations of international humanitarian law” in the Gaza Strip. “No party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law,” said the UN Secretary General, without explicitly naming Israel.
Thousands of victims
War in the Middle East: Deaths and Mourning in Israel and Gaza
According to government figures, Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, killed around 1,400 people and took more than 220 hostage in its major attack on Israel. Since then, more than 5,800 people have died in Israeli counterattacks on the Gaza Strip, according to unverifiable Hamas figures. According to the UN Children’s Fund, 2,360 children have died in Israel’s counterattacks in the Gaza Strip since Hamas’ terrorist attacks a good two weeks ago. Unicef said early on Wednesday morning that 5,364 others had been injured, citing reports without naming the sources. Unicef spoke of “relentless attacks”.
UN Security Council fails on resolutions on the Middle East
At the open session of the UN Security Council, Palestinian Foreign Minister Rijad al-Maliki accused Israel of “massacres” in the Gaza Strip. “The ongoing massacres that are being carried out consciously and systematically and brutally by Israel (…) must be stopped,” said the diplomat. “It is our collective humane duty to stop them.” Further “failure” by the UN Security Council on the issue is “inexcusable”.
In the UN Security Council, in which the five permanent members China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the USA have the right to veto, two attempts at a resolution on the Middle East war have already failed. The UN General Assembly will consider the issue on Thursday.
At the Security Council meeting, Guterres reiterated his call for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Middle East war. “To alleviate unimaginable suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer, and facilitate the release of hostages, I reiterate my call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”
Israel rejects calls for ceasefire
At the meeting, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) advocated for “humanitarian windows” so that relief supplies can be brought to the Gaza Strip. At the same time, she emphasized that Israel’s security was “non-negotiable” for Germany. “Like any other state in the world, Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism within the framework of international law.” Dealing with the suffering of the Palestinian population is not a contradiction.
“A cry of unbearable suffering can be heard in the Middle East,” said Baerbock, referring to the Israeli victims of the Hamas attack as well as Palestinians who “fear for the lives of their children.” The suffering must end for everyone.
Israel has so far rejected calls for a ceasefire following the major Hamas attack on October 7th. The government refers, among other things, to the ongoing rocket attacks against Israel and the hostages held by Hamas.
The US government supports Israel in this stance and has repeatedly stated that a ceasefire would ultimately only help Hamas. However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken showed openness to “humanitarian breaks” at the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.