Henry has been condemned as a cheat following his part in the decisive goal in Wednesday night's game in Paris.
But Beckham said: 'I honestly didn't think Thierry meant it. I know him as a player and a person. He's a good person and a great player. It's a shame to see Ireland go out because they have such great fans but these things happen in football.
Enlarge He's a bit handy: Henry sets up Gallas for France's controversial winner in Paris
'I really don't think he meant it. I've had a few headlines in the past which have not been nice but I don't think he is a cheat.'
Asked whether he would have done the same thing in a similar situation, Beckham told Sky Sports News: 'Who knows in that situation? You're playing in a qualifier to go through to the World Cup, you don't know what you're doing.
'I've been involved in big games and reacted to certain things and looked back and thought I was wrong to do that.'
Hand of friendship: Beckham is behind Frenchman Henry
Sunderland chairman and former Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn described the goal as 'the biggest injustice I have ever seen in sport'.
HAVE YOUR SAY. Have you lost all respect for Thierry Henry? France star Thierry Henry blatantly cheated with his handball that helped his country reach the World Cup finals at the expense of Republic of Ireland. The forward earned a reputation as one of the greatest players to ever grace the Premier League with class on and off the pitch. But is that now overshadowed by his act of cheating? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK He told the club's website: 'I was at the first leg and it was disappointing because France were lucky on the night. We hoped it would be us who got the breaks in France but it wasn't to be.
'People talk about Maradona's Hand of God goal but I'd say that 'Henry's goal' was the biggest injustice I've ever seen in sport. Maybe I feel it more because I'm Irish.
'All that I believe in and all that I love about sport was shattered when I saw something like that. It's possibly the lowest I've felt at any sporting moment in my life.'
Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro had sympathy for his countryman Trapattoni.
'I'm very sorry for Trap. In terms of fair play, something went wrong.
'After the goal, (Henry) should have had the decency not to celebrate. Perhaps he would have done better to stay calm.
'France were lucky because they found an opponent that was very sporting, otherwise I think the match would have come to a halt.'
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Explore more:People:Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Fabio Cannavaro, Niall QuinnPlaces:Paris, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Ireland, France, United Kingdom