Antonio Guterres
Antonio GuterresReuters

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday borrowed a megaphone from protesters calling for the release of hostages being held by Hamas and addressed the crowd.

In his remarks, Guterres said that if he was the Israeli Prime Minister, his first priority would be the hostages.

Upon showing the demonstrators that he keeps the dog tag calling for the release of the hostages in his pocket, the protesters told him that this wasn’t enough and he needs to do more.

“If I was Prime Minister of Israel today, my main priority would be the release of hostages. I’ve been following very closely the negotiations. Last Friday, I received the Prime Minister of Qatar and for the first time, I was optimistic because, for the first time, the negotiations were discussing the possibility of the release of all hostages,” said Guterres.

“And I have to say, I am worried now because Hamas made declarations that were not constructive, and your Prime Minister also made declarations saying that the war will go on, so I’m a little bit worried,” he added.

Guterres has been repeatedly critical of Israel and its response to the Hamas massacre on October 7. In one incident, he said that Hamas’ attack on Israel “did not happen in a vacuum” and appeared to blame Israel for the attack.

After his remarks were widely condemned, Guterres claimed his comments were misinterpreted and that he had indeed condemned Hamas.

On Thursday, the UN chief was pressed by Channel 12 News correspondent Yuna Leibzon about his ongoing claims that Israel is carrying out “collective punishment” in Gaza.

Asked by Leibzon what he would have done if a terrorist organization had launched a murderous attack against his people, the UN chief replied, “I think there is something wrong in the way the military operations are being conducted.”

When Leibzon pointed out that Hamas hides within civilian populations, Guterres retorted, “I have condemned the use of human shields. I even said that it is a violation of international humanitarian law, but the same international humanitarian law is clear that even when there are human shields, there is an obligation to protect civilians, so in that regard, I think we are abiding by principles without double standards.”

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)