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‘Detached from Reality’: Israel’s UN Ambassador Slams Secretary-General’s Jenin Comments


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Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan speaking at a press stakeout ahead of an emergency UNSC meeting on Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Temple Mount visit (5 January, 2023 – Screenshot)

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan on Thursday slammed comments made earlier that day by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that described Israel’s recent security operation in Jenin as a disproportionate use of force.

“The Secretary-General’s remarks were shameful, farfetched, and completely detached from reality,” Erdan said in statement. “The recent IDF activity in Jenin focused solely on combating the murderous Palestinian terror targeting innocent Israeli civilians. Additionally, it’s hard to fathom how the UN Secretary-General, time and again, ‘forgets’ to mention that the murderous terrorists are Palestinian terrorists.”

Israel on Wednesday concluded its counter-terrorism operation in Jenin, a Palestinian city and refugee camp in the West Bank. With 1,000-2,000 ground troops, drones and a helicopter air strike, it was one of the largest IDF actions in the West Bank in the past 20 years. 12 Palestinians were killed during the operation, all of whom Israel claims were militants, as well as one Israeli soldier. 

While the Palestinian Authority is responsible for governing Jenin, Israel says the PA has lost control of the security situation to militant groups including the Iran-backed Gaza-based terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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Guterres on Thursday condemned the operation as “violence against civilians.”

“Israel’s airstrikes and ground operations in a crowded refugee camp were the worst violence in the West Bank in many years, with a significant impact on civilians, including more than 100 injured and thousands forced to flee,” he said. “Schools and hospitals were damaged, water and electricity networks were disrupted, and people in need were prevented from accessing essential relief.”

Guterres added that “the use of airstrikes is inconsistent with the conduct of law enforcement operations,” and that “obviously, in this situation, there was an excess of force used by Israeli forces.”

Erdan rebutted those charges as being based “solely on Palestinian lies.”

“Mr. Secretary-General, innocent civilians fled their homes only because Palestinian terrorists seized them for cover,” he said. “Hospitals and schools were damaged only because Palestinian terrorists turned them into arms caches and command centers for their terror activity. Why do you ignore the facts on the ground? Are the lives of Israeli civilians not important enough to justify fighting terror?”

Three United Nations special rapporteurs on Thursday went further than Guterres, saying that Israel’s actions “may prima facie constitute a war crime” and that Israel’s “attacks” had “no justification under international law.”

“Israeli forces’ operations in the occupied West Bank, killing and seriously injuring the occupied population, destroying their homes and infrastructure, and arbitrarily displacing thousands, amount to egregious violations of international law and standards on the use of force and may constitute a war crime,” the rapporteurs said in a statement. “The attacks constitute collective punishment of the Palestinian population, who have been labelled a ‘collective security threat’ in the eyes of Israeli authorities….For this relentless violence to end, Israel’s illegal occupation must end. It cannot be corrected or improved in the margins, because it is wrong to the core.”

One of the three rapporteurs, Special Rapporteur for Palestine Francesca Albanese, has faced widespread calls from Israel and US elected officials for her resignation over her anti-Israel and antisemitic bias, including for her 2022 remarks to a Hamas conference in Gaza where she told the terrorist group’s attendees that they “have a right to resist this occupation” and a 2014 letter in which she claimed America was “subjugated by the Jewish lobby.”

The UN Security Council on Friday met in a closed session to discuss the situation in the West Bank.

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