Antonio Guterres
Antonio GuterresReuters

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) on Thursday rejected the claim by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Israel used excessive force in its operation to capture terrorists in Jenin.

“We strongly reject the assertion made by UN Secretary-General Guterres that Israel used excessive force during its counter-terrorism operation in Jenin,” it said.

“The facts speak for themselves: Responding to a wave of terror attacks directed from Jenin and in the midst of a densely populated area, Israel successfully completed its mission — seizing hundreds of explosive devices, shuttering weapons labs, neutralizing 12 terrorists in firefights,” added the AJC, which noted that 12 terrorists -- and no civilians -- were killed during the Israeli operation.

Guterres earlier launched a scathing attack on Israel, claiming the operation in Jenin had left over 100 civilians injured, forced thousands to flee, damaged schools and hospitals and disrupted water and electricity networks.

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.

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.