Israel condemns UN's Antonio Guterres for remarks on Palestinian plight

Israel attacks Secretary General for highlighting plight of civilians in Gaza

UN Security Council holds meeting to discuss Israel-Gaza war

UN Security Council holds meeting to discuss Israel-Gaza war
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Tension flared at the UN Security Council on Tuesday over Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Arab countries expressed outrage over the mounting civilian death toll, while Israel attacked Secretary General Antonio Guterres for highlighting the plight of Palestinians.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also told the world body that Washington does not seek a war with Iran but warned that it will respond “decisively” should Tehran's proxies attack American personnel anywhere.

Gaza's Health Ministry says at least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombardments, including 2,360 children.

Israel is waging a war against Hamas after it attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,400 people and taking another 200 or more hostage.

Outside the Security Council, ministers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt expressed their anger at what is happening in Gaza.

“We need the whole international community to be outraged at the absence of justice,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said.

“We must be outraged at our failure as an international community for having failed to solve a conflict that we all knew is going to get worse.”

The latest from the Israel-Gaza war - in pictures

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that Arab countries “are willing to have normal relations with Israel in return for one thing: end the illegal occupation of the Palestinian land … withdraw from occupied Arab lands”.

Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE's Minister of State for International Co-operation, said humanity is facing a critical test.

“We must succeed in the test by advancing the choice of peace and reviving the two-state solution which is needed now more than ever,” Ms Al Hashimy said.

Arab leaders urged the Security Council to fulfil its UN Charter mandate by striving to halt hostilities and ensure the safety of all civilians.

Frustrations are high at the Council as it has failed to act on the Gaza crisis after vetoes of resolutions by permanent members including the US.

The US vetoed a resolution drafted by Brazil because it made no explicit mention of Israel's right to defend itself.

Washington has drafted a new resolution that “sets out practical steps” and “incorporates substantive feedback that we received from fellow Council members over recent days”, according to Mr Blinken.

"No member of this council, no nation in this entire body, could or would tolerate the slaughter of its people," Mr Blinken said.

Mr Guterres urged world leaders to protect civilians in the Israel-Gaza war, expressing concern over “the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza".

The UN chief said it was important to recognise the Hamas attacks "did not happen in a vacuum" as the Palestinian people have been ”subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation."

“They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced; and their homes demolished.”

Mr Guterres' remarks angered Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen who lashed out at the Secretary-General.

“Mr Secretary General, in what world do you live?” Mr Cohen asked as he recounted graphic details of Hamas attacks on civilians.

“Definitely, this is not our world."

“Over 1,500 terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad infiltrated Israel from the south with the viciousness exceeded even ISIS, killing over 1,400 babies, children, women and men“ said the Israeli minister.

Mr Blinken said that Washington does not want the war to widen, but warned “if Iran or its proxies attack US personnel anywhere, make no mistake: we will defend our people, we will defend our security swiftly and decisively".

“Don’t throw fuel on the fire,” he said.

The US Secretary of State accused Iran’s proxies of repeatedly attacking American forces based in Iraq as part of a coalition against ISIS.

He also urged world leaders to send a firm and united message to stop others from opening fronts in the Israeli-Hamas conflict, or who may take aim at “Israel's partners, including the United States".

After the Security Council session, Mr Cohen said he had cancelled his meeting with Mr Guterres as there are “not two sides … there is only one side to support in front of the aggression” Israel faces.

Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan, who was with Mr Cohen, called on the UN chief to resign from his position unless he apologises for his remarks at the Security Council that the Hamas attacks “did not happen in a vacuum”.

Updated: October 26, 2023, 6:20 AM