Israel said it was banning United Nations representatives from visiting the country “to teach them a lesson,” after the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the October 7 attacks by Hamas had to be seen in the context of decades of occupation of the Palestinian people.
Speaking at a UN general debate on the Middle East in New York on Tuesday, Guterres created a commotion when he said: “It is important to … recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”
After Guterres’ remarks, the Israeli foreign minister, Eli Cohen, said in a tweet: “I will not meet with the UN secretary-general. After the October 7 massacre, there is no place for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased off the face of the planet!”
Feeling the heat, with top Israeli diplomats calling for his resignation, the UN Secretary General said late on Wednesday that he was "shocked" at the reaction to a statement he had made on Tuesday. He said he clearly condemned the "acts of terror" inflicted on Israel in remarks where he also said the attacks did not happen "in a vacuum."
UN-Israel Spat To Worsen Gaza's Problems
The Israel-UN spat is likely to accentuate the humanitarian crisis. The main UN agency working in Gaza said it will be forced to halt its operations due to a lack of fuel. In Gaza, hospitals, feeling the crunch, said they were stopping all but emergency services as fuel runs out. According to the World Health Organization, 12 of the 35 hospitals in Gaza were not functioning.
UNRWA, the UN agency that aids Palestinians, said that if no fuel gets into Gaza, it will have to “make some very tough decisions.” Apart from health caare clinics, the agency desperately needs fuel to run nearly 150 shelters where 600,000 displaced Palestinians have sought safety.
Fuel is also needed for the vehicles that UNRWA uses to distribute supplies inside the blockaded territory on behalf of other U.N. agencies. “The next 24 hours are going to be critical,” the spokesperson said. “After that, we are going to have to start choosing where to send the aid, and how often.”
Just eight trucks of aid arrived in Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt overnight. Twenty trucks had been due to cross, but Israel was still inspecting the remaining 12, according to a local Egyptian official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Youth runs