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Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, on October 24, 2023. Image Credit: AP

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday rejected the “misrepresentations” of his remarks a day earlier on Palestinian grievances that infuriated Israel.

“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, without naming Israel.

Addressing a Security Council session on Tuesday, the UN chief, again without naming Israel, denounced “the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza.”

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In remarks that especially outraged Israel, he said it was “important to “recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum” as the Palestinians have been “subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”

Guterres said Wedesday 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.’”

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen cancelled a meeting with Guterres and angrily pointed his finger at him during the Tuesday session, reading graphic accounts of civilians killed in the October 7 assault by Hamas.

Israel’s outspoken ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called on Guterres to resign — writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the UN chief has “expressed an understanding for terrorism and murder.”

Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burned to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials.

More than 6,500 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed across Gaza in relentless Israeli bombardments in retaliation for the attacks by the Palestinian Islamist militant group, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.