UN’s Guterres says October 7 onslaught ‘cannot justify collective punishment’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says attacks by Hamas do not justify the “collective punishment” of the Palestinian people, appearing to sharpen his criticism of Israel.

The Hamas attacks on October 7 “cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” Guterres tells delegates at a forum of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative in Beijing.

Some 1,300 people, most of them civilians, were killed when over a thousand Hamas gunmen rampaged through southern Israel last week. At least 199 more were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and says it is trying to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way, but has also kept most humanitarian aid from reaching the Strip.

Guteress earlier condemned the bombing of a hospital in which hundreds were killed, without assigning blame. Palestinians have blamed an Israeli strike, while Israel says evidence shows the blast was caused by a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket launch.

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