A United Nations official caused an uproar when he made a statement saying that Israel did not have the right to defend itself against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The comment was made by Robert Piper, the UN’s coordinator for humanitarian and development activities in the Palestinian territories, during an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Piper’s statement, saying, “As if the UN didn’t have enough appalling scandals, it is now defending terrorism against Israel.” Other officials also denounced Piper’s comments, including US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus who said the US “strongly and unequivocally” supports Israel’s “right to defend itself”.
Piper later attempted to clarify his comments, saying that he was attempting to point out that both sides had “responsibility to protect civilians” and was “not impugning any specific party’s right to self-defense”. The UN also released a statement distancing themselves from his comments, saying that “The UN stands by its long-held position that all states have an inherent right of self-defense in accordance with international law”.
Piper’s comments have received significant backlash, with many noting that it is hypocritical that the UN is blaming the violence solely on one side. This controversy and Piper’s remarks serve as a reminder of the thorny situation in the Middle East and the difficult task ahead for the UN in attempting to bring about peace in the region.