UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary General Antonio GuterresUnited Nations

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a press briefing today (Wednesday) in light of the firestorm surrounding his remarks at the Security Council yesterday in which he stated that the Hamas massacre of over 1,400 Israelis "did not happen in a vacuum."

Guterres said: "I am shocked by the misrepresentations by some of my statement yesterday in the Security Council - as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas. This is false. It was the opposite. In the beginning of my intervention yesterday, I clearly stated, and I quote: "I have condemned unequivocally the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October act of terror by Hamas in Israel. Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring, and kidnapping of civilians, or the launching of rockets against civilian targets," end quote."

"Indeed, 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," end quote. And then I went on with my intervention, referring all my positions on all aspects of the Middle East crisis.

"I believe it was necessary to set the record straight, especially out of respect to the victims and to their families," the Secretary-General concluded.

Guterres sparked outrage on Tuesday when he stated that "it is important to also recognize the attack by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their lands steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence, their economies stifled, their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing."

Following his speech, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations demanded that Guterres resign as Secretary-General.

"The UN Secretary-General, who shows understanding for the campaign of mass murder of children, women, and the elderly, is not fit to lead the UN. I call on him to resign immediately. There is no justification or point in talking to those who show compassion for the most terrible atrocities committed against the citizens of Israel and the Jewish people. There are simply no words," Erdan said.

In addition, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen cancelled a planned meeting with Guterres in protest against his remarks.