Israeli officials on Wednesday showed the United Nations secretary-general why the threat from Palestinian terrorists along the Israel-Gaza Strip border cannot be overlooked.
Secretary General Antonio Guterres toured the border between Gaza and Israel, examining the threat Israelis face from the Palestinian Islamic terrorist organization Hamas, the Times of Israel reported. Guterres toured the area with Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon and Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces.
"Hamas continues to arm itself in order to harm Israel as it exploits the generous humanitarian aid provided by the international community," Danon told Guterres.
The group took a helicopter over the border area and landed for a time to examine a Hamas-built tunnel leading into Israel. The terrorist organization has, for years, built tunnels to carry out attacks against Israel. The organization has been criticized for focusing on the fight against Israel at the expense of Gaza residents.
"Instead of working to ensure a better future for their children, Hamas has turned the residents of Gaza into hostages, and is investing its resources into digging murderous terror tunnels," Danon said.
Hamas was designated a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 by the U.S. Department of State.
The group also visited residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, an agricultural community in range of Hamas' rockets and mortar bombs.
Earlier in the week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint press conference with Guterres to discuss the country's many security threats.
"Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment, and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel," Netanyahu said. "This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the U.N. should not accept."
Guterres addressed a range of issues in his comments, including Israeli criticism of U.N. peacekeeping on the border with Lebanon. He acknowledged Israel's security concerns are legitimate.
"I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective," Guterres said.
Guterres told Israeli officials that his goal is "treating all states equally." He also said calling for Israel's destruction is "modern anti-Semitism."
While discussing how anti-Semitism remains "alive and well" in today's world, Guterres expressed shock over hearing "neo-Nazis in a developed country in the world, chanting ‘blood and soil,' the slogan of the Nazis." The comment appeared to reference the tiki torch-bearing demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va. earlier this month.
Guterres also met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday, where he condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and reaffirmed a commitment to a two-state solution.