Calls for Resignation and Visa Blocks Amid Gaza Crisis
A furious diplomatic spat has erupted between Israel and the United Nations after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made remarks regarding the recent attacks by Hamas. The tension escalated as Israeli officials called for Guterres’ resignation in response to his comments that the Hamas attacks “did not happen in a vacuum.”
Speaking at a Security Council meeting, Guterres called for a humanitarian ceasefire amid the deepening crisis in Gaza. He emphasized that “clear violations of international humanitarian law” were taking place. Guterres described Hamas’ October 7 attack as “appalling” and stated that “nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring, and kidnapping of civilians, or the launching of rockets against civilian targets.”
However, he also acknowledged the broader context of the conflict by noting that “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum.” Guterres highlighted the long-standing grievances of the Palestinian people, who have endured over five decades of occupation, witnessed the growth of settlements on their land, suffered from violence, seen their economy stifled, and experienced displacement and home demolitions.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, present during Guterres’ speech, responded with frustration, asking, “In what world do you live? Definitely, this is not our world.” Cohen later took to social media, expressing that “after the October 7th massacre, there is no place for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased off the face of the planet!”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, went a step further by calling for Guterres to resign, accusing him of “expressing an understanding for terrorism and murder.” Moreover, Erdan announced that Israel would block visas for United Nations officials, revealing that the country had already rejected an application by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths.
This intense dispute exposes the underlying tensions around calls for a ceasefire amidst a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The main UN agency operating in Gaza has warned that it would be forced to suspend its operations due to a lack of fuel. Gaza has faced days of airstrikes and a near-total blockade following the recent Hamas attacks.
Efforts within the United Nations to endorse a ceasefire have faced obstacles, with the United States vetoing a draft resolution put forward by Brazil. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid to reach civilians in Gaza, though he did not explicitly use the term “ceasefire.” Meanwhile, the National Security Council has stated that Hamas must first release hostages held in Gaza before a ceasefire can be considered.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated its calls for a ceasefire, underscoring its inability to distribute essential health supplies and fuel to major hospitals in northern Gaza due to security concerns. As a result, six hospitals in Gaza have been forced to shut down due to a lack of fuel.
The escalation in the Israel-UN dispute raises serious questions about the path forward in resolving the Gaza crisis and underscores the urgent need for a sustainable ceasefire to address the mounting humanitarian challenges faced by the people in the region.