Israeli Ministers call for the UN Chief to resign after he dares to speak out about the Gaza Crisis
The UN Secretary General faced a completely unusual and harsh reaction following his speech relating to the current crisis in Gaza, at a meeting of the Security Council on the Middle East on Tuesday 24th October.
Speaking at a Security Council special meeting, which was hosted specifically to discuss the current Israeli/Palestine Gaza crisis, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, made the point that it was critical to recognise that the recent incursion by Hamas into Southern Israel, which resulted in 1,400 Israeli deaths on 7th October, and which has subsequently seen the deaths of nearly 6,500 Palestinians, did not he said, ‘happen in a vacuum’. The language used by the UN Secretary, clearly broke away from the recognised ‘official discourse’, as he defined the current crisis in the context of what he said were ‘56 years of suffocating occupation’.
‘It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum'
Having unequivocally condemned the actions of Hamas for their ‘horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror’, he controversially then went on to say:
‘It is important to also recognise 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. 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’
'..appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people… Even war has rules'
Guterres took a bold step, which to date no Western leader or senior political figure has dared to take. He compared the ‘appalling acts by Hamas’ with the ‘collective punishment of the Palestinian people’. He said:
‘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… Even war has rules’
In a direct rebuke to the actions being perpetrated currently by the military forces of Israel, he added:
‘We must demand that all parties uphold and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law; take constant care in the conduct of military operations to spare civilians; and respect and protect hospitals and respect the inviolability of UN facilities which today are sheltering more than 600,000 Palestinians.’
‘Protecting civilians does not mean ordering more than one million people to evacuate to the south, where there is no shelter, no food, no water, no medicine and no fuel, and then continuing to bomb the south itself’
UN Chief faces unprecedented attack from Israeli Ministers and Knesset members
The response was immediate as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan launched a verbal attack against Guterres, describing his comments as ‘completely disconnected from the reality in our region’ adding that his remarks constitute a ‘shocking’ justification for terrorism and murder and insisting that the UN Chief resign his post, before pointing out that:
‘There is no justification or point in talking to those who show understanding for the most terrible acts committed against the citizens of Israel - no less by a declared terrorist organisation’
Erdan then threatened to withhold visas from UN Officials.
The Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eli Cohen, then snubbed the UN Chief and refused to meet with him for talks, before then posting comments on Twitter, which read:
'After October 7th, there's no room for a balanced approach…Hamas must be eradicated from the world’
Another Knesset Member and former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman posted a Tweet which read:
‘The UN Secretary General should learn history before talking nonsense. His announcement is part of the false Palestinian narrative that the UN has been reinforcing for years. Anyone who finds justification for the massacre of women and children is no different from Hamas' despicable terrorists. The secretary-general, in his remarks, is in fact legitimising the murder of Jews and Israelis and should have been removed from office sooner rather than later’
UK Government wastes no time in siding with Israel over UN Chief's remarks
Unsurprisingly, The UK Government has sided with Israel against the claims made by the UN Chief. The UK Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, was quick to declare his thoughts that Guterres was wrong to make the statements he did, saying that they should be retracted, before adding that:
‘No-one, whether deliberately or otherwise, should be implying there is any justification for [Hamas's attacks]," he told ITV, adding that the UK also did not believe Israeli actions in Gaza had broken international law’
Jenrick then went on television and stated:
‘If he is referring to what has happened over the course of the last two weeks we don’t believe that Israel has broken international law,
There is a clear right in international law for a nation to defend itself and that is what Israel is doing. We do want to see Israel, wherever practicable and it’s immensely difficult to do, to surgically degrade and eradicate Hamas. That is what they are trying to do’
Fuel in Gaza just hours away from running which will ensure the closure of hospitals and health centres
The UN Chief made his controversial and outspoken comments just hours before fuel is expected to run out in Gaza, which according to the Gaza Health Ministry will mean that at least 15 out of 35 hospitals will be forced to close as the electric generators cease to function. Also 32 health centres were already out of service after Israel cut off access to essential supplies – blood units, medicines, fuel, food and water. The Ministry issued a statement, which read:
‘The healthcare system has reached the worst stage in its history’
In the afternoon of Wednesday 25th October, The United Nations Works Relief Agency (UNWRA) spokesperson, Tamara Alrifai, issued a statement saying:
‘We will most likely run out of fuel that is available to UNWRA’s humanitarian operations between tonight and tomorrow…for us this means we are going to have to make very difficult choices as now on what we prioritise’