Ambassador Gilad Erdan
Ambassador Gilad ErdanSpokesperson

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday launched a scathing criticism of Israel over what he claimed was its excessive use of force during the counterterrorism operation in Jenin.

Guterres said the operation had left over 100 civilians injured, forced thousands to flee, damaged schools and hospitals and disrupted water and electricity networks, reported The Associated Press.

He also criticized Israel for preventing the injured from getting medical care and humanitarian workers from reaching everyone in need.

“I strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror,” Guterres was quoted as having told reporters.

Asked whether this condemnation applied to Israel, he replied, “It applies to all use of excessive force, and obviously in this situation, there was an excessive force used by Israeli forces.”

Guterres called on Israel “to abide by its obligations under international law,” and to exercise restraint and use only proportional force.

“The use of air strikes is inconsistent with the conduct of law enforcement operations,” he stated before adding that Israel “as the occupying power… has a responsibility to ensure that the civilian population is protected against all acts of violence.”

Guterres said he understands Israel's legitimate concerns with its security. “But escalation is not the answer,” he said. “It simply bolsters radicalization and leads to a deepening cycle of violence and bloodshed.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, denounced Guterres’ remarks and said, “The Secretary-General’s remarks against Israel were shameful, farfetched, and completely detached from reality. The recent Israeli counter-terror activity in Jenin focused solely on combating the murderous Palestinian terror targeting innocent Israeli civilians.”

“Sadly, Palestinians had to leave their homes temporarily as Palestinian terrorists turned them, along with hospitals and schools, into arms caches and command centers for their terror activity. Blaming Israel for these ruthless Palestinian acts only incentivizes the terrorists to continue using populated areas for their arms and weapons!” continued Erdan.

“Time after time,” the Ambassador said, “the UN Secretary-General disregards brutal Palestinian terror and neglects to condemn the cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians. Yet when discussing defensive Israeli actions aimed at dismantling terror infrastructure, the SG is quick to issue extensive condemnations of Israel detached from the truth.”

“I call on the SG to retract his words and clearly condemn the Palestinian terror against civilians and for using other Palestinians as ‘human shields,’ rather than denouncing the democratic State of Israel for defending itself in the face of terror,” concluded Erdan.

Guterres’ comments come days after he expressed concerns over the Israeli operation in Jenin.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the developments in Jenin. He affirms that all military operations must be conducted with full respect for international humanitarian law,” said a spokesperson for Guterres in a statement.

Erdan earlier this week blasted the Palestinian Authority (PA) for continuing to support terrorism, after Israeli troops found weapons in the heart of Jenin.

Erdan tweeted pictures of the munitions located by the troops as part of the counterterrorism operation in Jenin and wrote, “These mortars and IEDs were found in a weapons manufacturing facility in the densely populated heart of Jenin.”

“Storing explosives used to target civilians while using civilians as cover is a double war crime. The Palestinian Authority should have condemned it and taken action against it, instead of supporting and financing terrorists,” he added.