Israel said on Wednesday it was banning UN representatives from visiting the country protesting UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' statement that the October 7 attack by Hamas had to be seen in the context of decades of occupation of the Palestinian people, adding "the ban is to teach them lesson".
Israeli envoy to the UN Gilad Erdan had earlier also demanded Guterres' resignation.
Guterres invited fire from Israel while making the remarks at the UN when he said: "It is important to ... recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation."
He also said no injustice to the Palestinians could justify the appalling attacks by Hamas.
Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, protested calling for Guterres' resignation and said on army radio: "Due to his remarks, we will refuse to issue visas to UN representatives. We have already refused a visa for undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths. The time has come to teach them a lesson."
Erdan has described the UN chief's remarks as blood libel.
It is unclear to what levels of UN hierarchy the visa ban extends because a large number of UN workers are employed by UNRWA, the UN relief and works agency for Palestinian people.
The UN secretary general created fury both in Israel and among some Republicans in the US by describing Israel's bombardment and blockade of the Gaza Strip in response to the Hamas attacks as the "collective punishment of the Palestinian people" and "clear violations of international humanitarian law".
Guterres also condemned the Hamas attack saying: "Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians – or the launching of rockets against civilian targets. All hostages must be treated humanely and released immediately and without conditions."
Griffiths, a former British diplomat and special envoy on Yemen, has warned that current levels of UN aid into Gaza are woefully inadequate. He has repeatedly called for a ceasefire to allow aid into the territory, media reports said. The US vetoed a UN resolution by Brazil calling for a humanitarian pause to allow aid into Gaza since it did not explicitly allow for Israel's self-defence.
Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN Gilad Erdan, while demanding resignation of Gutteres, told mediapersons: "The UN is failing, and you, Mr. Secretary-General, have lost all morality and impartiality. Because when you say those terrible words that these heinous attacks did not happen in a vacuum, you are tolerating terrorism, and I think that the secretary-general must resign."
"Because from now on, every day that he is here in this building, unless he apologizes immediately, today, we called him to apologize, there's no justification to the existence of this building."
Erdan took to social media saying Guterres' speech was "shocking".