António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, addressed the controversy around his comments a day earlier that Hamas’s attack on Israel “did not happen in a vacuum.”
“I am shocked by the misinterpretations by some of my statement yesterday in the Security Council — as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas,” Mr. Guterres said to reporters outside the council chamber. “This is false. It was the opposite.”
But Hamas did get a vote of support on Wednesday from the leader of Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Hamas was “not a terror organization” but a group fighting “to protect their land and citizens.” Mr. Erdogan said he did not “excuse any acts targeting civilians, including Israeli civilians,” but condemned what he called Israeli brutality against Palestinians.
In Washington, President Biden offered another full-throated declaration of support for Israel during a news conference at the White House, saying that “Israel has the right and I would add responsibility to respond to the slaughter of their people.”
But the president said that Hamas did not represent all Palestinians, and that “Israel has to do everything in its power, as difficult as it is, to protect innocent civilians.”
The United States has pledged full support to Israel as it fights Hamas, though it has encouraged the Israelis to hold off on a ground invasion, citing the safety of the hostages, the need to deliver aid to Gaza, and concerns that Israel does not have a clear military strategy.
On Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu said the Israeli military was still preparing for a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. “I will not spell out when, how, how much,” he said. “I also won’t detail all the considerations we’re taking into account, most of them totally unknown to the public.”
In a prime time address to Israels, Mr. Netanyahu indicated that he was already thinking of the political battles that lie ahead. He conceded that he would have to provide answers for how Israel was caught off guard by the stunning Hamas attack, but stopped short of explicitly taking responsibility.
“This disaster will be fully looked into,” he said. “Everyone will need to give answers — including myself. But all of this will only happen after the war.”