Amid Increasingly Dire Humanitarian Situation in Gaza, Secretary-General Tells Security Council Hamas Attacks Cannot Justify Collective Punishment of Palestinian People
Speakers Stress Urgency of Protecting Civilians, Unrestricted Aid Delivery, Avoiding Regional Conflagration, in Day-Long Debate
The situation in the Middle East grows more dire by the hour, with the war in Gaza raging and risking spiralling throughout the region, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned the Security Council today, calling for humanitarian aid without restrictions and an immediate ceasefire.
“At a crucial moment like this, it is vital to be clear on principles — starting with the fundamental principle of respecting and protecting civilians,” Secretary-General Guterres said, during a day-long ministerial debate on the Palestinian question, amid an escalation of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. “Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians — or the launching of rockets against civilian targets.”
Recalling his unequivocal condemnation of the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel, he called for the immediate release of the hostages. As well, he stressed the need for humanitarian aid to be delivered without restrictions, adding: “To ease epic suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer, and facilitate the release of hostages, I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”
The attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum, he noted, with the Palestinian people being subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation, during which they saw their land devoured by settlements; their economy stifled; their homes demolished; and their hopes for a political solution vanishing. However, the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. “And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he said, emphasizing: “Even war has rules.” At this critical hour, he appealed to everyone to pull back from the brink before the violence claims even more lives and spreads even farther.
Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process, said that Hamas’ abhorrent 7 October attack and Israel’s ongoing military operation in Gaza have taken a staggering toll on civilians. In the “sickening killing spree” by Hamas and other Palestinian militant-groups, more than 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals were killed, and 220 civilians, including women and children, as well as soldiers, were taken into Gaza as hostages. On that day, Israel’s Security Cabinet declared a state of war, with its forces commencing a massive bombardment of what they said were Hamas sites throughout Gaza, targeting some 5,000 locations. On 8 October, Israel’s Minister for Defense announced a complete siege of Gaza, blocking all entry of goods, including electricity, water, food and fuel.
He outlined the devastating impact of Israel’s ongoing air strikes, with Gaza’s Ministry of Health reporting more than 5,000 Palestinians killed, including over 1,100 women and 2,000 children, as well as journalists, medical workers and first responders. One million Palestinians have been displaced, with entire neighbourhoods reduced to rubble and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) schools and hospitals — many sheltering displaced Palestinians — having been hit. Warning of a significant risk of a regional spillover with the already worrying violence in the occupied West Bank having increased since the outbreak of war, he stressed the need to advance a negotiated peace that fulfils the long-held vision of two States, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements.
Also briefing the Council was Lynn Hastings, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, who said that nearly 1.4 million people were displaced in the Gaza Strip, nearly 600,000 of whom are sheltering in UNRWA facilities “in increasingly dire conditions”. “There is nowhere to seek refuge in Gaza. When it comes to decisions on whether and where to flee, civilians are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” she said. Citing figures from the Gaza Ministry of Housing, she said that at least 42 per cent of all housing units in the Gaza Strip have been either destroyed or damaged since 7 October, calling into question the ability of people to return to their homes.
Gaza remains under a full electricity blackout and hospitals are on the brink of collapse. Deliveries into the besieged city via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, while welcome, amounted to no more than 4 per cent of the daily average volume of commodities entering Gaza prior to current hostilities and do not include fuel. “No fuel means no functioning hospitals, no desalination of water and no baking,” she said. Pointing out that people are drinking saline groundwater, increasing the risk of cholera and other health issues, she called on Israel to bring water and electricity supplies back to pre-conflict levels and work with her teams to find a secure way of bringing fuel into Gaza. “It will be important also that the Israeli crossings for the movement of people and goods are opened,” she added.
During the day-long debate, over 80 Heads of State, ministers, Government officials and representatives voiced alarm at the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, stressing the need for water, fuel and medicine to enter the besieged enclave. Many delegates underscored the urgent need to avoid a regional conflagration and to recommit to a two-State solution. Speakers, however, varied in emphasis, with some full-throatedly asserting Israel’s right to defend itself against an existential terror threat, while others deplored the blockade and the seemingly indiscriminate nature of the strikes and called for international law to be respected.
Riad Al-Maliki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, urged the Council and the international community to put an end to the ongoing massacres perpetrated by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian civilian population. “The Security Council has a duty to stop them. Continued failure at this Council is inexcusable,” he emphasized, calling on the 15-member organ to call for a ceasefire, secure humanitarian access in all parts of Gaza, end the forced displacement, provide international protection for the Palestinian people, and achieve justice through accountability.
“The fate of the Palestinian people cannot continue to be dispossession, displacement, denial of rights and death,” he said, pointing out that over 5,000 Palestinians have been killed in the past two weeks, almost all of them civilians. Over 2 million Palestinians are on a survival mission every day and every night. Calling for an urgent end to the bloodshed, the only way to avoid an even greater humanitarian catastrophe and a regional spillover, he stressed: “Peace and security cannot and will not be achieved by crushing the skulls of infants or through “wiping out Gaza” or “turning it into a hell” or “reducing its area”. Nor will it materialize by arming thousands of terrorist settlers and encouraging them to continue their attacks against the Palestinian people in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
Eli Cohen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, held up a collage with pictures of the hostages held by Hamas, stressing: “These children and babies have not caused evil, but they are victims of evil.” On 7 October, more than 1,500 terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad infiltrated Israel and killed over 1,400 men, women and children. They went from house to house, slaughtering entire families in their beds, people on their way to synagogues, raping women, burning them alive, he said, adding: “Hamas are the new Nazis”, and the civilized world must stand united behind Israel to defeat them. The international community should call on Qatar, which finances Hamas, to enable the immediate release of the hostages held by the terrorists.
While Israel gave Palestinians Gaza down to the last millimetre, instead of building hospitals, office buildings and commercial centres, they took the money to dig tunnels and to build rocket factories. “Listen to these monsters — the West is next,” he said, stating that the ongoing war is “not just Israel’s war. It’s the war of the free world.” He thanked the United States for standing with Israel during its darkest hour, adding that if all nations do not stand with Israel to “eliminate these monsters from the face of the Earth” after the most brutal and vicious terror attack in modern history, the United Nations will “have no moral justification to exist”.
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, asserting that Israel has “the right and indeed the obligation to defend itself” against terrorism, said: “Every one of us has a stake and responsibility in defeating terror.” Palestinian civilians must be protected, and Hamas must cease to use them as human shields. Food, medicine and water must flow into Gaza, and humanitarian pauses must be considered, he said, noting that his country has prepared a resolution containing practical steps to address the crisis, building on the text by Brazil. Noting Iran’s support for Hamas and Hizbullah, he stated that if the country or its proxies attack United States personnel, the United States “will defend our people and our security swiftly and decisively”.
The representative of the Russian Federation, observing that “the scale of the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip has exceeded all of our worst imaginations”, said that the world is expecting a call for a swift and unconditional ceasefire from the Council, which is not in the current draft resolution from the United States. “Therefore, we don’t see any point in it, and we cannot support it.” However, his delegation has prepared an alternative draft resolution based on humanitarian language with important elements from the United States, Brazil and the first Russian Federation drafts, which he has requested to be put to a vote straight after the United States draft.
Meanwhile, the speaker for Iran pointed out that the Council has faced obstacles in taking decisive action on the situation mainly due to the United States, which has vetoed over 40 resolutions. “The United States’ unwavering support for occupation and aggression has rendered it an active part of the problem,” he said, adding that it and other Western States attempted to shift the blame from the wrongdoer to the victim. International law and the UN Charter recognize the legitimate right to self-determination, as well as the right to self-defence for Palestinian people, “including resistance groups like Hamas”, he emphasized.
The delegate of Jordan, speaking for the Arab Group, said that the international community’s common humanity is being put to the test today, pointing to a spiral of violence based on despair over decades of occupation, injustice and oppression and “a raging war that is razing Gaza to the ground”. Calling on the Council to adopt a resolution for a ceasefire to stop the war, he noted that the 15-member organ was established to apply international law and maintain that there is no State above the law, “but it seems that Israel is above the law.”
Egypt’s representative, deploring that “the war machine continues indiscriminately to claim lives without any distinction”, asserted that, given that 2.5 million civilians are being killed, starved and forcibly displaced, “silence in this case is tantamount to giving blessings”. The solution to the Palestinian question is not military action or forced displacement but granting the Palestinians their legitimate rights and letting them live in peace and safety on their own territories, he said, adding: “Egypt will not accept for the Palestinian people to be forcibly displaced and we will not accept any liquidation of the Palestinian question at Egypt’s expense.”
For her part, Switzerland’s delegate said that, as the depositary of the Geneva Conventions, her country prioritizes the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law, adding: “We are committed to a Council that, even in times of emergency — and especially in times of emergency — makes respect for international humanitarian law a priority.” She called for an investigation to be carried out into the incident at Al Ahli Arab Hospital, and for all violations of international law to be investigated, so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, warned that the situation in the Middle East grew more dire by the hour, with the war in Gaza raging, and risking spiralling throughout the region. “At a crucial moment like this, it is vital to be clear on principles — starting with the fundamental principle of respecting and protecting civilians,” he stressed. Recalling his unequivocal condemnation of the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel, he stated, “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, he said, noting the presence of members of their families.
The attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum, with the Palestinian people being subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation, during which they saw their land devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced; their homes demolished, and their hopes for a political solution vanishing, he went on. However, the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. “And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” he said, emphasizing: “Even war has rules.” All parties must uphold and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law; take constant care in the conduct of military operations to spare civilians; and respect and protect hospitals and respect the inviolability of United Nations facilities which today are sheltering more than 600,000 Palestinians.
He went on to voice deep alarm over the relentless bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces, the level of civilian casualties and the mounting destruction of entire neighbourhoods, underscoring the importance of protecting civilians in any armed conflict. “Protecting civilians can never mean using them as human shields,” he said, adding: “Protecting civilians does not mean ordering more than 1 million people to evacuate to the south, where there is no shelter, no food, no water, no medicine and no fuel, and then continuing to bomb the south itself.” Voicing concern over the clear violations of international humanitarian law being witnessed in Gaza, he said, “Let me be clear: No party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law.” While some humanitarian relief is finally getting into Gaza, it represented “a drop of aid in an ocean of need”. United Nations fuel supplies in Gaza will run out in a matter of days, he said, adding: “That would be another disaster.”
The people of Gaza need continuous aid delivery at a level that corresponds to the enormous needs, he continued, adding: “That aid must be delivered without restrictions.” He commended his United Nations colleagues and humanitarian partners in Gaza risking their lives to provide aid to those in need, stressing: “To ease epic suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer, and facilitate the release of hostages, I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” Even in “this moment of grave and immediate danger”, he emphasized that a two-State solution is the only realistic foundation for a true peace and stability. Israelis must see their legitimate needs for security materialized, and Palestinians must see their legitimate aspirations for an independent State realized, in line with United Nations resolutions, international law and previous agreements.
Finally, he called for human dignity to be upheld. Observing that polarization and dehumanization are being fuelled by a tsunami of disinformation, he said, “we must stand up to the forces of antisemitism, anti-Muslim bigotry and all forms of hate.” He noted that today is United Nations Day, marking 78 years since the Charter of the United Nations entered into force, reflecting Members’ shared commitment to advance peace, sustainable development and human rights. At this critical hour, he appealed to all to pull back from the brink before the violence claims even more lives and spreads even farther.
TOR WENNESLAND, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process, expressed his most sincere condolences to the thousands of families — in Israel, Palestine and across the globe — including the families of 35 UN staff killed in Gaza. “The abhorrent attack launched by Hamas on 7 October and Israel’s devastating, ongoing military operation in Gaza have taken a staggering toll on civilians and deeply shaken Israelis and Palestinians alike,” he said, pointing to the unprecedented events which risk expanding to the wider region. He recounted that on the morning of 7 October, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups launched a large-scale, complex assault on Israel, with an estimated 1,500 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants from Gaza infiltrating some 20 Israeli communities and military facilities in the Gaza periphery by land, sea and air, while thousands of rockets were launched towards central Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
“Testimony and evidence emerging from that tragic day reveal a sickening killing spree, designed to terrorize, with appalling scenes of brutality, massacres and hostage-taking, including against infants and young children,” he said, reporting that in all, Hamas and other Palestinian militant-groups killed over 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals — the bloodiest attack in Israel’s history. At least 220 civilians, including women and children, as well as soldiers, were abducted and taken into the Gaza Strip as hostages, he added, welcoming the release of four hostages and recognizing the important role of Qatar in that regard. Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza have continued to launch indiscriminate rocket fire from there into Israel, and to date, according to Israeli sources, some 7,700 rockets have been launched. “On the day of the attack, Israel’s Security Cabinet declared a state of war for the first time in over 50 years, with the aim of ‘the destruction of the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad’,” he recalled, adding that that same day, Israeli forces began a massive bombardment of what they said were Hamas sites throughout Gaza.
Israel’s air assault in the Strip has continued to date, with some 5,000 such sites targeted, according to the Israel Defense Forces, he reported, further recalling that, on 8 October, Israel’s Minister for Defense announced a complete siege of Gaza, blocking all entry of goods, including electricity, water, food and fuel. The air strikes have been devastating, he stressed, noting that, thus far, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has reported over 5,000 Palestinians killed, including over 1,100 women, 2,000 children as well as journalists, medical workers and first responders, with more than 15,000 injured. Over 1 million Palestinians have been displaced, he added, noting that the level of physical destruction has left entire neighbourhoods in rubble and critical infrastructure destroyed or damaged. Schools, including United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) schools, and hospitals — many sheltering displaced Palestinians — have been hit. Underlining the immense humanitarian impact, he welcomed Egypt’s facilitation to open the Rafah border crossing on 21 October and echoed the Secretary-General’s appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire.
“The risk of a significant further deterioration of the situation in the occupied West Bank or spillover of the conflict in the region remains significant,” he warned, emphasizing that the already worrying violence in the occupied West Bank has increased since the outbreak of war. Israeli authorities have imposed widespread movement restrictions and conducted extensive arrests. High numbers of daily clashes and armed exchanges between Palestinians and Israeli security forces and settlers have been recorded, as well as settler-related violence and Palestinian attacks against Israelis. “Meanwhile, across the Blue Line, and amid heightened rhetoric from actors on the ground, there have been daily intermittent but intense exchanges of fire since 8 October,” he said, reporting that Hizbullah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have launched rockets and anti-tank missiles towards Israel, while Israel Defense Forces responded with artillery fire and air strikes, leading to casualties on both sides. On the Golan, the Israel Defense Forces responded on 10 October with artillery and mortar shells towards what they said were a number of launches from Syria towards Israel. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) continues to engage with both parties, urging them to exercise maximum restraint and respect their obligations under the 1974 Agreement on the Disengagement of Forces, he said.
He and the Secretary-General have been pursuing any and every opportunity to address the situation on the ground and to prevent further civilian death and misery, he said, stressing: “It is critical, that we, as a united international community, employ all our collective efforts to end the bloodletting and prevent any further expansion of hostilities — including in the region.” He appealed to all relevant actors to act responsibly as “any miscalculation could have immeasurable consequences”. Pointing to the unresolved conflict and continued occupation, he said: “For 15 years, the population has been living under militant rule and a strict closure regime, as the Palestinian divide hardened. For a generation, hope has been lost and despair has prevailed for those who see prospects for a more peaceful future pulling still further away.” Stressing that only a political solution will move the international community forward, he said: “The steps we take to address this crisis must be implemented in a way that ultimately advances a negotiated peace that fulfils the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis — the long-held vision of two-States, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements.”
LYNN HASTINGS, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, briefed the Council that violence is at historically high levels on both sides. In the Gaza Strip, there are nearly 1.4 million displaced people, nearly 600,000 of which are sheltering in UNRWA facilities “in increasingly dire conditions”, she said. The average number of internally displaced people has reached more than two and one half times the capacity. “There is nowhere to seek refuge in Gaza. When it comes to decisions on whether and where to flee, civilians are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.” She noted that displaced families are reportedly returning to north Gaza because they cannot meet their basic needs including safety in the south.
According to the Gaza Ministry of Housing, at least 42 per cent of all housing units in the Gaza Strip have been either destroyed or damaged since 7 October, calling into question the ability of people to return to their homes. Gaza remains under a full electricity blackout. Hospitals are on the brink of collapse. Doctors are forced to operate without anaesthesia. Since 7 October, 16 health workers in Gaza have reportedly been killed and 30 injured while on duty, she said.
She said that the agreement to allow essential humanitarian supplies into Gaza via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, has provided a glimmer of hope to people living in appalling conditions. But she added that these deliveries are a drop in the bucket compared to the vast scale of needs. They amount to no more than 4 per cent of the daily average volume of commodities entering Gaza prior to these hostilities. “Needs are now, of course, significantly greater.” Most crucially, these deliveries do not include fuel that is essential for powering the services needed for people to survive. Without fuel our humanitarian operation will stop, she said: “No fuel means no functioning hospitals, no desalination of water and no baking. Many people are drinking on saline groundwater, increasing the risks of diarrhoea, cholera, and other health issues.”
She called on Israel to bring water and electricity supplies back to pre-conflict levels and work with her teams to find a secure way of bringing fuel into Gaza. While the UN negotiates with the Government of Israel, it has 400,000 litres of trucks ready to go, which would provide fuel for approximately two and a half more days, she noted. For Gazans to get access to adequate food, water, medical care and other essential supplies, we must be able to scale up deliveries of all goods, and we must be able to replenish fuel supplies, she said. “It will be important also that the Israeli crossings for the movement of people and goods are opened.” She urged the Member States to redouble funding to UNRWA and other humanitarian agencies on the ground without delay and called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire “to ease this epic human suffering”.
RIAD AL-MALIKI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, urged to stop the killing and massacres being committed against his people. He said that the ongoing massacres perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian civilian population under its illegal occupation must be stopped. “The Security Council has a duty to stop them. The international community is obliged under international law to stop them. It is our collective human duty to stop them — now. Continued failure at this Council is inexcusable,” he emphasized, praising the efforts of the UN agencies and humanitarian staff on the ground, particularly UNRWA, and mourning the senseless killing of UNRWA staff and other humanitarian workers, including doctors, nurses and paramedics who were directly targeted by the ongoing barbarous aggression.
He stressed that over 2 million Palestinians are on a survival mission every day and every night. “By the time representatives are done delivering their speeches today, 150 Palestinians will have been killed, including 60 children,” he said, adding that, in the last two weeks, over 5,000 Palestinians have been killed, including over 2,300 children and 1,300 women. “Almost all those killed by Israel are civilians,” he underscored, also spotlighting over 1 million Palestinians displaced and 170,000 housing units destroyed. He went on to state that only international law and peace are worthy of unconditional support. “More injustice and more killing will not make Israel safer,” he stressed, adding that no amount of weapons and no alliance will bring to it security, but only peace with Palestine and its people will.
“The fate of the Palestinian people cannot continue to be dispossession, displacement, denial of rights and death,” he emphasized, adding that the freedom of the Palestinians is the condition of shared peace and security. “For those actively engaged to avoid an even greater humanitarian catastrophe and regional spillover, it must be clear that this can only be achieved by putting an immediate end to the Israeli war launched against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip,” he said, urging to stop the bloodshed. “Peace and security cannot and will not be achieved by crushing the skulls of infants” or through “wiping out Gaza” or “turning it into a hell” or “reducing its area”, as has been announced repeatedly by everyone who carries out these killing and destruction. It will also not materialize by arming thousands of terrorist settlers and encouraging them to continue their terror attacks against the Palestinian people in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, he stated.
He stressed that the urgent solution required from the Council today is to call for a ceasefire, an immediate cessation of the Israeli aggression, to work urgently to secure humanitarian access in all parts of the Gaza Strip, to end the forced displacement, to provide international protection for the Palestinian people and to achieve justice through accountability. He also called for the necessary practical measures to address the root causes of the issue and end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory with Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State as per the Council’s resolutions and as per the peace process and international law, and also empowering the Palestinians to enjoy their inalienable rights, including the return of refugees and self-determination, as per General Assembly resolution 194 (III). “All eyes are fixed on Gaza, do not fail the test,” he concluded.
ELI COHEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, said that young babies and children are held in Gaza, a situation beyond imagination. These children and babies have not caused evil, but they are victims of evil, he said, adding that Saturday, 7 October — when more than 1,500 terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad infiltrated Israel and killed more than 1,400 men, women and children, wounding more than 4,000 — will go down in history as a brutal massacre and a wakeup call to the free world. They went from house to house, slaughtering entire families and individuals in their beds, people on their way to synagogues, raping women, burning them alive, he said. “Hamas are the new Nazis,” he said, and the civilized world must stand united behind Israel to defeat them. Qatar, which finances Hamas, could influence and enable the immediate and unconditional release of the more than 220 hostages held by the terrorists, he said, adding that members of the international community should demand that Qatar does just that.
Israel gave Palestinians Gaza down to the last millimetre — there is no dispute regarding the land of Gaza, he said. But they took the money they received from the world and instead of building hospitals, office buildings and commercial centres, they took the money to dig tunnels and to build rocket factories, he said. “Listen to these monsters — the West is next,” he said, adding that the war which was imposed on Israel is “not just Israel’s war. It’s the war of the free world.” As for calls for proportionality or a ceasefire, what is the proportional response to the killing of babies, for the raping and burning of women, for beheading a child, he asked, adding that the proportional response to the 7 October massacre is the total destruction of Hamas. The free world should remember and never forget what happened on 7 October. Today this barbaric terror happened in Israel; tomorrow it will be on everyone’s doorstep, he said. “We have not chosen this war. But have no doubt. We are going to win it,” he said.
As Iran’s proxy, Hamas had three objectives for its barbaric attack: the murder of Jews, the kidnapping of hostages and the derailment of peace, stability and normalization in the region, he said, adding that Israeli citizens are under heavy missile and rocket fire from Gaza. Meanwhile, there is a clear attempt to escalate and provoke a war on Israel’s northern border where the Iran proxy Hezbollah is targeting Israeli cities, he said. Last week, cruise missiles were launched at Israel from Yemen. Have no illusion who is behind it or what is the reason, he said. The international community must understand who is under threat and who is the aggressor, he added. “The world now faces a clear choice of moral clarity: one can either be part of the civilized world or surrender to the forces of evil and barbarism,” he said. “There is no middle ground. No room for moral ambiguity.”
He thanked Member States who had designated Hamas a terror organization and called on others to do so immediately. He also thanked United States President Joseph R. Biden and United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken for showing moral clarity and standing with Israel at this dark hour. He said if all nations do not stand decisively and clearly with Israel to "eliminate these monsters from the face of the Earth” after the most brutal and vicious terror attack in modern history, this will be “the darkest hour of the UN” and the United Nations will “have no moral justification to exist”.
MAURO VIEIRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, and President of the Council for October, speaking in his national capacity and echoing his President’s appeal that “there needs to be a minimum of humanity in the insanity of war”, said the situation is both a hostage and humanitarian crisis. While the world mourns the passing of innocent people including Brazilians, he said, it cannot condone acts of terrorism, as violence only breeds more violence. Brazil therefore calls for an immediate and unconditional release of all civilian hostages, particularly women and children. He added that dealing with the situation must include respect for human rights, humanitarian law and refugee law. Highlighting the situation with regards to power supply, health facilities, and access to drinking water, he said the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality, humanity, necessity and precaution must guide and inform all actions and military operations and urged the Council to not lose sight of the root causes of the conflict.
He said achieving peace requires strict adherence to international law as well as working towards the two-State solution. Israel must stop all settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem. He underscored the importance of preserving the historical status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem and urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint. Brazil is committed to UNRWA, and believes diplomacy and dialogue remain as the most powerful assets. Decrying the fact that the Security Council has not passed a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian situation since 2016, he urged the Council to not shy away from its responsibility in the situation. “We need solutions, no matter how politically difficult they may be. A peaceful and prosperous Middle East is to the benefit of all of us,” he said.
ANTONY J. BLINKEN, Secretary of State of the United States, said he had put forth a resolution containing practical steps to address the crisis, building on elements of the text by Brazil. First, it recognizes the right and imperative of States to defend themselves against terrorism, and condemns Hamas’ terrorist attack against Israel, during which, he said, “young people were gunned down with glee, young people were beheaded, parents were executed in front of their parents, and children were executed in front of their parents, and so many were taken hostage.” In this context, he said, “it must be asked: where is the outrage? Where is the explicit condemnation of these horrors?” The Council must denounce Member States arming, funding or training Hamas. Noting that the violence had affected United Nations employees, and many Member States, including Council Members, he said: “Every one of us has a stake and responsibility in defeating terror.”
While Israel has “the right and indeed the obligation to defend itself”, Palestinian civilians must be protected, and Hamas must cease to use them as human shields, he continued. Food, medicine and water must flow into Gaza, and humanitarian pauses must be considered. On that, he highlighted efforts by his Government’s recently appointed Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues, David Satterfield, and the United States’ additional $100 million aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, bringing the total aid provided this year to Palestinians to $1.6 billion. “A civilian is a civilian is a civilian, no matter their nationality, gender, or faith,” he said. He welcomed the release of four hostages and implored all Council members to use their leverage to secure the release of the 200 hostages still in the grip of Hamas. Member States must also send a united message to those considering opening another front to the conflict; “Don’t throw fuel on the fire,” he added.
Pointing to Iran’s support to Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis, he stressed: “The United States does not seek conflict with Iran but if it or its proxies attack United States personnel, we will defend our people and our security swiftly and decisively.” The two-State solution is the only way to break out of the cycle of violence and achieve broader regional security, he said, adding: “Two paths lie before us — one path is offered by Hamas, and it leads to death, destruction, and darkness. The other is the path to greater peace, normalization and integration; the path to the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and a state of their own.” Hamas does not get to choose the path the world takes, he stressed.
CATHERINE COLONNA, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, said: “It is our duty to condemn unambiguously Hamas’ terrorist attack and that of other terrorist groups against Israel.” Hamas’ 7 October attack also struck France, she said, noting that 30 French people died and another nine of its nationals are missing and reportedly being held hostage. She called once again for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. She affirmed her country’s solidarity with Israel and underscored its right to defend itself and protect its people, while noting that Israel must do so while respecting international law, in particular international humanitarian law. Hamas in no way represents the Palestinians, she emphasized, underscoring that it is the duty of the international community, including Israel, to guarantee the ongoing provision to civilians in Gaza of basic goods: water, food, medicine and fuel. She urged the international community to guarantee safe, swift, unimpeded and sustainable humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip, and uphold international humanitarian law and its principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
France, like the European Union, has increased its humanitarian assistance, she said, noting that, since the start of the crisis, it has mobilized an additional €20 million in supplementary humanitarian aid for the population of Gaza, through UNRWA, the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organizations. It has also chartered a special flight with emergency humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, to assist Egypt’s efforts, adding that her country’s total aid to the Palestinians will reach €100 million in 2023. Stressing that certain stakeholders must refrain from benefiting from the current situation, she cautioned them against any regional escalation that would drag the region into a downward spiral. Pointing to the well-known conditions for lasting peace, she stressed that the only viable solution is the two-State solution and called on the Council to fully exercise its responsibility to that end.
RÉGIS MICHEL M. ONANGA NDIAYE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, urged captors to release all hostages. He said the siege of Gaza “is pushing the levels human distress to an unbearable scale” and called for health facilities and personnel to be protected. The recent delivery of aid is “a glimmer of hope for the millions of people in Gaza clamped within the vice-like grip of the warring parties”, he said. He welcomed efforts by Egypt and the United States to this end and appealed for the continuous opening of the Rafah crossing point. He regretted that the Council had not reached consensus on resolutions on the conflict. “Gabon believes that it is high time for humanity to prevail over political and geopolitical alliances.”
He said the continued policy of expanding settlements, demolitions and expulsions — particularly in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem — the blockade of Gaza, religious provocations, terrorist attacks on Israeli soil, the recurrence of bellicose speech and the freezing of tax funds collected by Israel from the Palestinian Authority on its behalf, are major obstacles to building a just and lasting peace. The manifest violations of international law and Security Council resolutions, notably resolutions 1860 (2009) and 2334 (2016), must urgently cease. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the two-State solution.
IGLI HASANI, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, said that his country stands with Israel, like with every other nation under attack in its legitimate right to self-defence in accordance with international humanitarian law. “In such difficult and defining moments, Israel and its people need the support of the community of the free nations in responding to terrorists who have committed horrible crimes and continue to question its right to exist,” he stressed, adding that innocent lives matter equally, be they Israeli or Palestinian. Hamas, their leaders who live a comfortable life outside Gaza and their supporters knew very well what they were doing when they unleashed “the beasts to kill, burn, massacre and kidnap everyone they could,” he said, emphasizing that their hope and their win would be to make the world turn against Israel. There is only one party that is rejoicing with what is happening. It is the country known to sponsor of terrorism, in Gaza, in West Bank, in Yemen, in Lebanon, in Syria, anywhere they can, he said without naming the country.
He was worried by a frightening increase, to very dangerous levels, of antisemitism — fuelled by hatred, misinformation and disinformation — particularly through social media, urging the world to “not stay indifferent in face of calls and behaviours that come from the Nazi playbooks.” He welcomed arrangements made so far for humanitarian convoys into Gaza, stressing “efforts must continue and diplomacy must always prevail”, and commending the efforts of Egypt, United States, Israel and the UN Secretary-General in this regard. Welcoming the release of hostages with the assistance of Qatar, he said: “Israel needs and deserves security; Palestinians need and deserve their State.” Albania reiterates its support for two States for two peoples, he underscored.
IAN BORG, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta, acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defence while also emphasizing that Israel must oblige by international humanitarian law. He welcomed the release of four hostages and called on Hamas to release the remaining captives safely and unconditionally without delay. He went on to express grave concern over the current humanitarian situation in Gaza. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed, he said, and condemned all attacks against civilians, medical and humanitarian workers, United Nations personnel as well as religious places and civilian infrastructure. He called for an independent investigation into the blast at Al Ahli Arab Hospital on 18 October. He expressed deep concern over Israel’s decision to cut off water, electricity, food and fuel to Gaza. This action is resulting in dire humanitarian consequences for the civilian population and will inevitably lead to a public health catastrophe, he said.
He stressed the need for unimpeded, sustained delivery of humanitarian aid through the Rafah crossing and the establishment of humanitarian corridors and commended efforts by the United Nations, Egypt and the United States, strongly reiterating a call for the establishment of an immediate humanitarian pause. “The legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people should not be confused with the extremist ideology of Hamas,” he said. “It is crucial that this distinction is made clear to all to avoid further inflammatory polarization and potentials of regional escalation.” He added that since 7 October, killing and forced displacement of Palestinians has sharply increased, including through settler violence and hundreds of arrests.
MAYA TISSAFI, State Secretary of Switzerland, said that, as the depositary of the Geneva Conventions, her country prioritizes the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law. “We are committed to a Council that, even in times of emergency — and especially in times of emergency — makes respect for international humanitarian law a priority,” she said. Switzerland calls for an immediate and unconditional release of all hostages in Gaza as it recognizes Israel’s legitimate concern for national defence and security. “We remind the parties of the binding nature of all its rules, without exception, in particular the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in the conduct of hostilities. Joining the Secretary-General to unequivocally condemn the incident at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, she called for an investigation to be carried out so that the facts can be clarified, also stressing the need to protect civilians and investigate all violations of international law, so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
She said her country is rapidly mobilizing additional funds for ICRC and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to address the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. It is imperative that adequate volumes of aid enter Gaza and that rapid, full, safe and unhindered access is allowed and facilitated in line with international humanitarian law. Humanitarian pauses are also necessary. She further called on the Council to “exert our influence on the parties to prevent an even more serious escalation, or even a regionalisation of the conflict”.
TOM TUGENDHAT, Minister of State for Security of the United Kingdom, observing that the events of the past 17 days have shocked all those who value the dignity of human life, said: “Israel is a nation in mourning. It is also a nation under attack.” The violence did not end on 7 October, he said, noting terrorist rockets still raining down on Israeli towns, and around 200 of its citizens are held hostage in Gaza, some of whom are British citizens. Palestinians are suffering, too, he said, noting that thousands have been killed in the conflict, while more than 1 million have been displaced. “We know that Hamas are using innocent Palestinian civilians as human shields; they have embedded themselves in civilian communities,” he said, adding that the group cares more about the opinions of their paymasters in Tehran than their fellow citizens. The United Kingdom stands with Israel in defending itself against terror.
He underscored the urgent need for sustained, unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza, for civilians to receive life-saving support. The recent opening of the Rafah crossing to aid trucks, while welcome, is not enough. He echoed the Secretary-General’s call for sustainable and adequate humanitarian access, observing the desperate need for “a constant stream” of water, fuel, medicine and food. The United Kingdom has committed $37 million of extra support for civilians in Gaza. The conflict must not engulf the wider region, he said, noting attacks by Hizbullah to the north of Israel and rising tensions in the West Bank, among other worrying signs. “Now is the time for dogged diplomacy that recognizes the hard realities on the ground and delivers help now,” he stressed. Voicing support for a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian State, he stressed: “Hope and humanity must win out.”
REEM EBRAHIM AL HASHIMY, Minister of State for International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, stressed that every diplomatic effort must be made, and all capabilities harnessed to achieve an immediate and sustainable ceasefire. Pointing to growing tensions in the region, including in southern Lebanon, the Red Sea and the occupied Syrian Golan, she warned that “an unchecked slide into regional war risks ominous outcomes” that will threaten regional security and affect stability around the world. As such, regional and international efforts must focus on de-escalation and restoring calm as soon as possible, she stressed, welcoming the 21 October Cairo Summit for Peace. Immediate, safe, sustainable and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid must be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip in a manner that meets the basic needs, she stressed, voicing appreciation for the support to aid delivery of Egypt and the UN. She pointed out, however, that the small number of trucks that have crossed into the Gaza Strip in recent days does not meet the massive needs on the ground and represent only 4 per cent of the volume of commodities that used to enter before the outbreak of this crisis.
Stressing that the attacks launched by Hamas on 7 October are barbaric and heinous, she demanded that the group release hostages immediately and unconditionally. Hamas’ crimes against civilians can never justify the policy of collective punishment towards the Gaza Strip, she underscored, stressing that Israel must respect its obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians. She reiterated once again her country’s unequivocal rejection of Israel’s order to evacuate more than 1 million people from northern to southern Gaza and demanded that those orders be cancelled. Stressing that the Gaza Strip has been under siege for more than 17 years, she asked: “Should we leave the people of the region to live in a series of wars, violence and hatred accumulated from one generation to the next?” She urged the adoption of a resolution calling for an immediate and sustainable humanitarian ceasefire, and serious work after that to find a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the conflict that allows both people to live in lasting peace and security.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said “the scale of the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip has exceeded all of our worst imaginations.” We all face the more urgent challenge to stop the violence and ensure the supply of humanitarian assistance to Gazans who face arbitrary strikes by Israel and violations of international humanitarian law. He noted that the Russian Federation draft resolution for a ceasefire was not passed earlier in October, with ongoing violence as the result. The world is expecting a call for a swift and unconditional ceasefire from the Council, which is not in the current draft resolution from the United States. “Therefore, we don’t see any point in it and we cannot support it.” For the Council to carry out its main purpose, the Russian Federation has prepared an alternative draft resolution based on humanitarian language with important elements from the United States, Brazil and the first Russian Federation drafts. He asked the Presidency of the Council to put it to a vote straight after the United States draft.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) praised the efforts of the Secretary-General and others who have made the delivery of humanitarian aid possible, as well as the release of some hostages, and demanded that all hostages taken by Hamas be released immediately and unconditionally. He noted that the situations in the West Bank and on the border between Lebanon and Israel are particularly disquieting. “This Security Council must not become an arena for rivalries, but rather, it must be a space for building peace, and peace in the Middle East is one of the principle pending questions that we have,” he said, underscoring that almost eight decades of conflict and thousands of deaths are the clearest evidence that violence is not the solution. He reiterated that the only way to end this conflict is through a peaceful, negotiated, definitive and just solution for the parties, with the existence of two States, Palestine and Israel, on the basis of the 1967 borders and the relevant resolutions.
ZHANG JUN (China) said more than 2 million lives in Gaza hang by a thread and called on the Security Council to demand an immediate ceasefire. Whatever the justification, if the fighting in Gaza is allowed to continue, the result will not be a military victory for either side but a catastrophe that consumes the entire region, he said. The Security Council must do everything in its power to achieve peace rather implicitly green-light further escalation, he said. He appreciated the efforts by Egypt, other countries and Secretary-General António Guterres to help open humanitarian corridors, though he warned that assistance is just a drop in the bucket. The Security Council must use its most unequivocal language to require the occupying Power to immediately lift the siege of Gaza, restore water, electricity and fuel supplies, and stop the collective punishment of the population in Gaza, he said, urging Israel to stop air strikes and ensure safe aid delivery and the lifting of the evacuation order for northern Gaza.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), condemning the attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian militants, called for an immediate release of hostages and a redoubling of diplomatic efforts to contain the conflict and prevent a regional spillover. All parties must comply with international law and address the humanitarian situation in Gaza while also protecting medical and humanitarian personnel. Japan supports any diplomatic activities that can lead towards de‑escalation and an improvement of the humanitarian situation, including the Cairo Summit for Peace and ongoing negotiations to free hostages. He also called for humanitarian corridors to be set up to continue the delivery of life-saving assistance to the Palestinian people in Gaza. He urged the Council to act with unity, saying that its silence is unacceptable and emphasizing that the conflict demonstrates the importance of the two-State solution. “What we need now is to help innocent lives, not political gain,” he said.
CAROLYN OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana), noting that today is United Nations Day, said it is regrettable that the Council has failed to reach consensus on a comprehensive humanitarian response. She recalled that, after the 7 October attacks launched by Hamas in southern Israel and the abduction of Israeli citizens and nationals of other countries, Ghana condemned the actions of Hamas and called on the group to cease its attacks and release the hostages without condition. Commending the efforts of the Secretary-General, the leaders of Egypt, Israel and the United States, and the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator in negotiating the opening of the Rafah border crossing, she appealed to the Government of Israel to allow more humanitarian aid deliveries, especially fuel, which is badly needed to power Gaza’s health centres and water-treatment plants.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique) said the situation in the Gaza Strip since 7 October has been concerning, and remains volatile and dangerous, adding: “It is a humanitarian crisis that has been ongoing for years, with many innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.” Associating himself with the Council’s efforts to protect civilians and respect international law, he underscored the urgent need to open humanitarian access corridors, and ensure access to water, electricity, food and medicine. All parties must de-escalate tension, halt the attacks, stop the suffering in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Gaza Strip and allow humanitarian access. “The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is unfolding before our eyes,” he said, reiterating the importance of protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure. The Council must work together to contain the conflict, end the cycle of violence and prevent a regional escalation. “We must support the strengthening of the Palestinian Authority, which represents the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people,” he added.
AYMAN SAFADI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, noted that the international community’s common humanity and moral values are being put to the test today, pointing to a spiral of violence based on despair over decades of occupation, injustice and oppression and “a raging war that is razing Gaza to the ground”. The Security Council was established for this moment, he said, to apply international law and stop the war and violence and maintain that there is no State above the law regardless of its might or its barbarism. “But it seems that Israel is above the law,” he emphasized. It is violating international law without deterrence and running roughshod over Council resolutions, building settlements without any consequences and confiscating Palestinian land without accountability. The Security Council did not even call for a ceasefire in the current war in Gaza, which is killing 14 Palestinian civilians every hour, he added.
“Enough with the war,” he declared. Addressing those who think they are serving Israel in its war against Gaza, he said: “Your position that is supportive of Israel will not serve Israel and will not convince Palestinians.” Condemning the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians and calling for liberty for everyone is a very important humanitarian position and one that his bloc has taken, he said. Any attempt to forcibly displace Palestinians inside or outside their occupied land is a war crime, he stressed, warning that his bloc will confront any forced displacement to neighbouring countries. Detailing the death and destruction in Gaza, he stressed: “Israel will enjoy security when Palestinians enjoy security.” The Security Council must adopt a resolution for a ceasefire to stop the war, condemn the killing of civilians on both sides, and prevent the starvation of Palestinians and their collective punishment. Moreover, it must take a clear stand that reassures 2 billion Arabs and Muslims that international law will be applied.
He urged the international community to work together to return to a true peace process and serious negotiations based on international law and Council resolutions to end the occupation and achieve a comprehensive, durable and just peace on the basis of the two-State solution within a set time frame and with international guarantees for peace for Palestinians, Israelis and the whole region.
SAMEH SHOUKRY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said the “Palestinian territories are going through horrific developments”, noting that more than 5,000 people had been killed there, including over 2,000 children. “The war machine continues indiscriminately to claim lives without any distinction,” he said. “It is shameful that some continue to justify what is happening, citing the right to self-defence and resisting terrorism,” he said, asking: “What right justifies not distinguishing between an enemy to be targeted and unarmed civilians destined to live for centuries in this particular part of their homeland and to be subjected to a blockade?” Two and a half million civilians are being killed, starved and forcibly displaced. He asserted that “silence in this case is tantamount to giving blessings,” not naming things by their names, and merely calling for respecting international humanitarian law without describing what is happening as a violation of the law, is tantamount to participating in the crimes.
He condemned the targeting of any unarmed civilians by any party or capturing them to use as a bargaining chip, adding that “humanity is indivisible and not selective”. Some want to play the blame game, but today’s situation did not come from nothing, rather from accumulated practices and policies with the goal of entrenching an illegal occupation, usurping the land from its rightful owners and imposing a new demographic reality. The solution to the Palestinian question is not military action or forced displacement, he said, rather the only solution is justice, by granting the Palestinians their legitimate rights and letting them live in peace and safety on their own territories. “Egypt will not accept for the Palestinian people to be forcibly displaced and we will not accept any liquidation of the Palestinian question at Egypt’s expense,” he said. What has the world gained as a result of deferring the solution — more tension and pain in occupied Palestine, in Israel, and in the whole region.
He regretted that the Council had not been able to adopt a resolution for a ceasefire and was surprised that its draft resolutions don’t include a ceasefire, without which the region might head to a dangerous juncture. Some of what’s being tabled amounts to a new attempt to justify the continuation of this war, he said, adding that this is not in line with the UN Charter and the Council’s mandate. He added that his country has tried to provide a platform in Cairo this month to contain the situation and offer a political framework, with a non-politicized approach taking into account the urgent humanitarian dimension of this catastrophe, aiming to achieve consensus on de-escalation to prevent more destruction and revive the peace process.
“We will not rest until this war ends,” he said, regretting the double standards applied to the humanitarian dimensions. He called for a sustainable, immediate ceasefire without conditions; an end to practices aimed at forcibly displacing Palestinians either within or outside their lands; international protection for unarmed Palestinian people and ensuring safe, sustained humanitarian aid to Gaza. He also called for Israel bearing its responsibility as the occupying Power, a process for a Palestinian State, and the Council investigating violations of international law and international humanitarian law.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said that global security has been in its worst shape since the cold war. There can be no excuse for launching thousands of rockets on the territory of a sovereign country and killing a large number of innocent people by such an attack, he stressed. “We do find unacceptable all kinds of attempts which aim at explaining this phenomenon or aim at putting it into any kind of context or aim at finding any excuse for such a barbarian attack,” he said, underscoring that Israel has the right to protect itself and that it is the interest of the entire international community that such an attack will never take place again. “What has to happen now is a fight against terror and fight against a terrorist organization”, he emphasized, calling for this fight against terror not to turn into a war between nations.
Commending the United States, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for facilitating the Abraham Accords, he said that he is counting a lot on the Gulf countries and Arab countries in the region not to let all these achievements be lost. “It’s scary to see images from the streets and squares of some European countries and here in North America,” he said, adding that he saw terrorist organizations being praised on the streets and antisemitism on the rise. “This is a consequence of the massive illegal migratory flows which have hit Europe in the recent years and which have created parallel societies in many European countries,” he stated, stressing that it is unimaginable that any authority in Hungary would approve any rally to praise terror attacks or organizations.
NALEDI PANDOR, Minister for International Relations of South Africa, said the ultimate solution to the conflict is to finalize the two-State solution and called for an immediate ceasefire, the opening of a humanitarian corridor and, most urgently, on all parties to desist from fuelling this patently unjust war and the suffering of innocents. She expressed condolences to the people of Palestine and Israel for the lives lost as well as horror at the blatant targeting of civilians, a clear violation of international humanitarian law, the Geneva Convention and its Protocols. Both Hamas and Israel have committed these violations, she said. The killing of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza by Israeli forces goes against the tenets of international law. There is an added obligation on an occupying Power, including a prohibition against collective punishment, she said, adding South Africa was also concerned about the actions of Hamas, which also targeted non-combatants.
FAISAL BIN FARHAN A.F. AL FURHAN AL-SAUD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said that today’s meeting is being held under painful circumstances. Condemning the targeting of civilians, he called for an end of the escalation of military operations, adding that the blockade and hostilities are causing suffering for the Palestinians. The international community’s failure to end this collective punishment by the Israeli occupation forces on Gaza “will not bring us any closer to security and stability”. The Security Council’s silence is unacceptable, he said, adding that the organ bears responsibility for its complacency, given the cost of the conflict in lives and property as well as the threat to the security and stability of the region. The Council’s inability to carry out its role, delaying arrival at a resolution to the crisis, casts doubt on its credibility, he said.
The international community must take a firm stand to end the military operations, guarantee the protection of civilians and delivery of humanitarian assistance, and prevent an expansion of the cycle of conflict, he said. The policy of double standards and selectivity in abiding by United Nations laws and resolutions “has dangerous repercussions that go beyond the conflict”, impacting international law and the ability to maintain international peace and security. He warned that this ongoing escalation and a lack of accountability will lead to further violence, destruction and extremism — and this as a result of UN resolutions not being respected or implemented. Ignoring the reasons behind the conflict will not lead to a just solution, and therefore a credible peace process must be revived. Saudi Arabia hopes that the region will enjoy peace and guaranteed prosperity for succeeding generations, and a peace that guarantees a two-State solution and establishment of a Palestinian State, he said.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs for Luxembourg, stressing that nothing can justify the atrocities committed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists against Israeli civilians on 7 October, condemned these acts in the strongest terms, and supported Israel’s right to defend itself under the framework of international law. However, he quoted United States President Joseph R. Biden’s message to Israel to “not be guided by rage”. The population is not Hamas, and cannot be held responsible or collectively punished for crimes committed by terrorists. Noting the Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire, he said that humanitarian pauses can be considered a first step, allowing for the delivery of humanitarian aid, and facilitating the immediate and unconditional release of hostages. He welcomed the first deliveries of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip in recent days, commending the United Nations, Egypt and the United States for facilitating the safe passage of shipments.
However, these deliveries did not include fuel, which is essential for hospital and water desalination, he continued. United Nations facilities, hospitals and schools must never be targeted, and UNRWA, which is sheltering 600,000 Palestinian people, must urgently receive support. On that, he highlighted his country’s provision of an additional €2.5 million to UNRWA, ICRC and WFP, bringing its 2023 contribution to €12 million. Noting his visits to Gaza over his time as Minister, he described it as an “open-sky prison”, with Gazans doubly suffering from Israel’s blockade and bombing and Hamas using them as human shields. A regional conflagration must be avoided, he said, noting that an alarming uptick in violence by settlers in the West Bank was leading to the forced transfer of Palestinians. The Council and the General Assembly have a key responsibility in avoiding an escalation of the situation, he said, voicing support for a two-State solution with 1967 borders, in line with Council resolution 2334 (2016).
RETNO LESTARI PRIANSARI MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, condemned the continued unprecedented aggression against civilians by Israel in Gaza. Pointing to the humanitarian catastrophe and crimes against humanity, she asked: “Are we going to stay idle?” She further asked the Council when it will exercise its responsibility to stop the war, create a ceasefire, open access to humanitarian assistance, call for the immediate release of civilians and stop the illegal occupation of Israel. Every second wasted due to political disagreement represents a humanitarian defeat for the Palestinians and creates further instability for the world, she stressed. Her country will not waste a single second in harnessing global support for immediate action through the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Group of Eight meetings, pushing for a united voice to urge the cessation of violence and focus on the urgent humanitarian catastrophe.
She urged the Council’s united call for an immediate ceasefire, noting that blanket support shown to one side so far has led to the disproportionate use of force, violations of international law and impunity. The Council must urge immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian passage and respect for humanitarian law. She further called on the Council to move beyond politics and bring back humanity to the 15-member organ. “Please use your great power to be more human,” she urged, emphasizing that Palestinians deserve equal rights and treatment. The Council holds great responsibility and with it great responsibility to address the current situation in Gaza, address the root cause and ensure a path to the two-State solution, she added.
FRANCISCO ANDRÉ, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, said he recognized Israel’s right to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas. But he added that Israel’s actions must strictly respect international humanitarian law. Hostages must be released immediately and without preconditions, he said, and added that the humanitarian consequences of the war must be addressed. “The death toll on both sides is staggering.” The increasing Palestinian civilian suffering is not acceptable, he said, noting that the basic tenets of international humanitarian law are not compatible with shutting off electricity, food, water and fuel from Gaza. “Collective punishment of civilian populations is contrary to international humanitarian law,” he said, and called for aid to reach Gaza.
“This is a moment of tragedy and crisis, and we must transform it into a moment of hope and opportunity,” he said, adding that to do so we must recognize the nature of the complexity of the issues at stake. He noted that Palestine has still not been granted statehood and millions of Palestinians remain displaced. He urged for the non-violent political path to be followed and for the avoidance of a broader conflict. He welcomed international and bilateral involvement to avoid spillover. Once this crisis is over we cannot go back to the status quo, he said, calling for the two-State solution to be fulfilled.
AHMED ATTAF, Minister for Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad of Algeria, said that the current events are happening due to the complete marginalization and devaluation of the Palestinian cause and the unjustifiable tolerance and absolute immunity of the Israeli occupation. Since the 1990s the Palestinian cause has not seen any serious initiatives, he stressed, citing the paralysis of the international diplomacy and the dangerous illusion that peace, security and stability are being sought in the Middle East. Reminding about the annexation of the Palestinian land and control of over 78 per cent of the West Bank, he said this has negative effects on the two States project. “We would also recall that this immunity — according to Israel — has given rise to more racist policies that we reject, the policies that reach the occupied city of Jerusalem and seek to change the legal status quo,” he stated, adding that this immunity has led to more deaths, forced displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians and the destruction of their infrastructure and housing over the last two decades.
The Palestinian people face a difficult choice — either leaving the territory and their rights behind or ethnic cleansing and eradication of the national Palestinian State project, he stressed, adding that these events put the UN to a significant test. He called on the Council to lift the unjust blockade of the Gaza Strip because this is a war crime and a crime against humanity; to put an end to the senseless bombing that has led to thousands of innocent victims, also a war crime and a crime of genocide; end the forced displacement of the Palestinian people which can be seen as a crime of ethnic cleansing; and to allow humanitarian assistance to be delivered to Gaza.
AHMET YILDIZ, Deputy Foreign Minister for Middle East and North Africa Affairs of Türkiye, said the 2.5 million people in Gaza are under constant and indiscriminate bombing. As of today, the Israeli military has killed close to 2,000 children, he said, emphasizing there can be no justification for the collective punishment of civilians in Gaza. “Some prefer to look the other way in the face of such atrocities. They prefer not to speak about crimes against humanity and war crimes. They prefer to pretend Palestinian people are just numbers and have no souls and no rights,” he said. “This is absolutely unacceptable. This is sheer hypocrisy and an embodiment of the double standards that constitute the very root causes of the problem we are facing today”. He called for an immediate, unconditional and lasting ceasefire and said unhindered humanitarian assistance to Gaza must be ensured, expressing hope the Security Council will continue to help keep the Rafah crossing open.
He said the two parties — Israel and Palestine — must be brought together to agree on a two-State solution. It is true that such a vision for a settlement has remained elusive, despite serious attempts, he said, adding that what is required now is a mechanism to monitor, verify and, when needed, enforce the obligations of the parties — otherwise what is written on paper runs the risk of remaining just that. The responsibility of stopping this bloodshed and starting a meaningful process for peace lies first and foremost with the Security Council, he said, adding that the last time the Security Council spoke with one voice on this issue was in January 2009 when resolution 1860 (2009) was adopted. He urged the Council to put aside its indifference to this carnage which can have no place in the twenty-first century.
ANNALENA BAERBOCK, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that to find a way out of this crisis, everyone must seek to understand each other’s pain. She speaks as the Foreign Minister of a country that bears historic responsibility for the worst imaginable crime, the crime committed by Nazi Germany: The systematic murder of 6 million Jews, with the aim of eradicating Jewish life from Europe. “Never again; to me as a German, that means that we will not rest knowing that the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors are now being held hostage by terrorists in Gaza,” she said. “For Germany, Israel’s security is non-negotiable.” Like any other State, Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism within the framework of international law. Addressing the plight of the Palestinians in no way contradicts this clear and unwavering stance.
The fight is against Hamas and not against civilians, and it must be carried out in line with humanitarian law, with the greatest possible consideration for civilians in Gaza, she said. Germany has increased its humanitarian aid to Gaza by €50 million and is advocating for the introduction of humanitarian windows so people in need can get help. “In doing so, we must not be fooled by Hamas’ playbook,” she said, pointing to their use of women and children in Gaza as human shields, and their hiding of weapons under supermarkets, apartment blocks and even hospitals. The rules of the Charter and international humanitarian law should guide the international community’s work for a new tomorrow. This means moving towards a meaningful peace process that allows both Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side in peace and security, in two independent States.
HANKE GERDINA JOHANNETTE BRUINS SLOT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Netherlands, said the horrendous violence carried out by Hamas was an attempt to destroy people’s souls, a threat which is far from over. The international community therefore needs to stand united in supporting Israel and its right to self-defence. She noted that the use of force in self-defence must be necessary and proportionate with international humanitarian law, and respected by all parties. To achieve the protection of civilians, humanitarian workers and United Nations premises and personnel requires restraint on the part of Israel in the use of force. Highlighting the catastrophic situation in Gaza, she said “we cannot afford to lose more time”, as a sustained flow of humanitarian aid is needed, including fuel and an immediate restoration of water supplies. Humanitarian pauses and a permanent humanitarian corridor are crucial to not only allow free passage, but also to prevent the situation from getting much worse.
“The Netherlands will step up its humanitarian response,” she said, and announced an additional commitment of €10 million for immediate humanitarian relief, of which €8 million is for UNRWA, aimed at improving the living conditions for Palestinian citizens, including mental health and psychosocial support. “We are also extremely concerned about the conflict spreading beyond the borders of Israel and Gaza,” she said, and called on all parties to prevent this from happening, including into the West Bank. Her country calls for an immediate and unconditional release of hostages. She recalled that at the United Nations’ founding, “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was one of the first major crises calling for urgent attention. Today, more than 75 years later, the need to find a solution to this conflict is more pressing and crucial than ever.” Her country calls on the Security Council to provide the leadership required to manage and contain this crisis.
ELTAHER SALEM ELBAOUR, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Libya, condemned Israel’s brutal aggression against the Gaza Strip, which has claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people, in addition to the hundreds still trapped under rubble, whom first responders are unable to reach due to the shelling. “This is the objective of the Zionist occupation forces: the genocide of the residents of Gaza City,” he stressed. “No media in the world can falsify what happened in Gaza,” he said, alluding to the bombing of Al Ahli Arab hospital, which claimed 500 lives. To “so-called civilized nations” who voice support for the aggression, exposing the falsehood behind slogans about human rights, he asked: “What kind of message are you sending the world? The world is fully aware of what is happening in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Enough double standards; enough falsifying facts.”
His country cannot accept the pretence that what preceded the crisis on 7 October — violations against Palestinians and the desecration of holy sites in Jerusalem — were perpetrated by unknown individuals, he continued, adding: “You can’t ask us to stay silent or support the aggression against civilians.” International resolutions and humanitarian laws are binding moral agreements, he said, adding: “Double standards in identifying civilians who should be protected at the international level, or provided military support, is unacceptable and demeans civilian lives.” He called for an immediate end of Israel’s aggression under the pretext of protecting civilians, noting that he has seen, on the news, the occupying forces’ declarations of their wish to perpetrate genocide against Gazan residents. The international community should support Palestine’s right to establish an independent State, instead of a new geographic reality, he said, adding: “We should not talk about the borders of 2023.”
SANJA ŠTIGLIC, State Secretary for Political and Multilateral Affairs and Development Cooperation of Slovenia, condemning in the strongest terms Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, called on the group to stop its rocket fire into Israel and immediately and unconditionally release all hostages. She voiced support for Israel’s right to self-defence in accordance with international law, including the principle of proportionality. She called on all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles, including full, immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to and within Gaza. Noting that the situation in Gaza is turning into a human catastrophe, she joined the calls for an independent investigation of the attacks on Al Ahli Arab Hospital.
Stressing the urgent need for a humanitarian ceasefire or pause, she said her country will continue to support the indispensable work of UNRWA and has recently substantially increased its funding to the agency, she said. Voicing full support for the UN system and the broader humanitarian community, she called on all countries in the region and beyond to act responsibly and cooperate and engage in a constructive dialogue to de-escalate the conflict. “As a matter of urgency, we must recommit ourselves to resuming a meaningful peace process leading to a two-State solution that brings peace and security to both sides,” she added.
GERARDO PEÑALVER PORTAL, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, associated himself with statements to come by the Non-Aligned Movement and Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and expressed deep concern about the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine as a consequence of decades of Israeli practices of illegal occupation and colonization. He condemned the murders of civilians; indiscriminate bombings; destruction of homes, hospitals and civil infrastructure; and the deprivation of water, food, electricity and fuel services to Gazans. “Nothing can justify these actions, which constitute collective punishment”, serious violations of international humanitarian law, and war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said. He demanded an immediate ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza and an end to the rhetoric of war.
He called it shameful that, once again, the Council has been unable to fulfil its mandate. The United States Government has been complicit and responsible for Israel’s impunity for its historical crimes by obstructing the action of the Council regarding the Palestinian question, undermining peace and stability in the Middle East. It is shameful that the United States has in this Council vetoed 46 resolutions related to the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, the most recent just a few days ago. He demanded that the United States Government not continue to paralyse the Council using the undemocratic and obsolete veto power “in order to protect the excesses of the Israeli Government”. He advocated for negotiation to stop the escalation of violence and a lasting two-State solution. He called for UN-coordinated emergency humanitarian aid for Gaza.
WOJCIECH GERWEL, Undersecretary for State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, reminding that his country condemned the brutal attacks on civilians by Hamas, said that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens in compliance with international law. Calling for immediate release of all hostages by Hamas, he said that it is crucial to prevent regional escalation and achieve a diplomatic solution. “We call for allowing access for relevant United Nations agencies and their implementing partners,” he said, stressing that the security of all those providing humanitarian assistance is critical. “Especially now we should not leave Gaza Palestinians without support,” he emphasized, recalling that Poland knows very well the consequences of war, invasion and terror, which are felt for generations. “This is why we reiterate that escalation and spreading of the conflict will have devastating and long-lasting consequences,” he said, calling on all the parties not to succumb to the logic of violence and make every effort to reach the cessation of hostilities.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR JAY, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Colombia, said the conflict is of great concern and demands decisive and coordinated action by the United Nations, and in particular by the Security Council. Considering the loss of thousands of lives in recent days and the degradation of living conditions, she recalled the importance of respecting the principles of distinction, proportionality and protection of infrastructure essential for the survival of the civilian population. In this regard, she joined the UN Secretary-General, UN agencies and countless demonstrators around the world, she said. “The world is crying out for a guarantee of access for humanitarian aid aimed at alleviating the suffering of the civilian population,” she said, adding that children, women, older people and the sick are worst affected by the violence.
She urgently called on the Security Council to take measures in the face of the blockade, which prevents humanitarian aid from entering Gaza, including fuel, hospital supplies, medicine and other indispensable resources. These supplies need to reach all areas, including the north of Gaza, she said, adding that humanitarian operations must be protected and facilitated as established in the Rome Statute. If not, she warned, it would mean a return to the worst times of human barbarity. “Today we are witness to the total disregard of international humanitarian law,” she said, adding that Colombia rejected such disregard. Violence only causes greater suffering, she said, reiterating a call for an immediate cessation of hostility and a resumption of peace negotiations to stabilize the situation. The international legal order must be preserved, she said, adding an international conference of peace must be convened immediately.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said the credibility of the Council is at stake, as the “war of vengeance” in Gaza “only aims to collectively punish millions of people whose only crime is that they live in the Gaza Strip”. It is a violation of international law and international humanitarian law — pillars of the international order. The League condemns the targeting and killing of civilians on both sides because it is convinced of the need to respect international humanitarian law, a principle of which is the distinction between armed combatants and civilians. He called for an immediate stoppage of the hostilities on civilians in Gaza, describing it as the only way to prevent a major humanitarian disaster. Expressing surprise at the claim by some parties to the right of self-defence as a justification to the most serious atrocities, he said the League is concerned that Israeli forces are forcibly displacing the people of Gaza from their homes in the north to the south “as if the aim is to create a humanitarian disaster whether inside the Strip or along the borders with Egypt”.
This opens the door for a second wave of forced displacement for the people of Gaza, he stressed. The League therefore rejects this displacement — a systematic strategy Israel seeks to apply to liquidate the Palestinian cause. He affirmed that Palestinians and Arabs would not experience a second nakba, and hoped this is clear to the world and the Security Council. It is time for the world to address the root cause of the cycles of violence. He said the only formula to preserve the dignity and freedom of the Palestinian people and safety for the Israelis is the two-State solution, hoping that “the current developments will compel us to think about future generations without repeating the mistakes of the past”.
ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) called for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages in Hamas’ custody, among them two Mexican nationals. Her country recognizes the right of Israel to protect its citizens and its territory, and to guarantee their security, but that must be done in strict adherence with international law, she stressed. She called for the immediate and lasting cessation of hostilities in all parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as the lifting of the siege suffered by the people of Gaza. “It is unacceptable that the United States used its veto on 18 October to prevent Security Council action,” she said, stressing that the draft resolution proposed by Brazil was a balanced text and humanitarian in nature. She once again called on Member States to join the France-Mexico initiative on the restriction on use of the veto, which already has 106 signatories.
SANGJIN KIM (Republic of Korea), condemning the abhorrent and indiscriminate Hamas terrorist attacks, called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. Until now, more than 6,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Israel and Gaza, he said, noting that those alive are suffering from acute shortages of necessities. Stressing that all civilian lives matter, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s announcement of the initial provision of humanitarian supplies to civilians in Gaza via the Rafah crossing with additional deliveries over the next couple of days. Noting the high levels of tension in the West Bank, he said that protecting civilians and preventing spillover violence must be the guiding priority at this fragile moment. However, to break the cycle of violence, efforts have to be renewed to establish a durable peaceful solution.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that UN political organs should not be silent in “this tragic crisis of our collective obligation to protect civilian populations.” Condemning the terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians by Hamas and other groups as well as targeting of civilians, mass killings, abduction and hostage taking, he affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law. Stressing that a “siege of Gaza” — as declared by Israeli military leaders — amounts to an act of collective punishment, he added: “The large numbers of civilian casualties, many of them children, that have resulted in Gaza to date are unacceptable.” States must see the protection of civilians as their highest priority, he said, and called for preventing further escalation of the war and ensuring humanitarian access to the population in Gaza.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), aligning himself with the Arab Group, warned that the conflict could become more dangerous with implications across the Middle East. Citing the Arab League’s reaffirming the need to stop the bloodshed and not target civilians, he called for the restoration of a genuine peace process aimed at a two-State solution. He also reported that Morocco will send humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, including food, medicine and water, and will coordinate its delivery with Egyptian and Palestinian authorities. Morocco remains on the side of the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights, he emphasized, and he called for an end to any measures that jeopardize the status of Jerusalem, in order to prevent the conflict turning from a political one to a religious one. The city must be a place of peaceful coexistence for all three religions, he said.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand) stressed that even as the Security Council convenes, “the deadly violence and bloodshed in Israel and Palestine persists.” Condemning Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Israel, she called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. Voicing support for Israel’s right to defend itself, in full compliance with international law — including in respect of actions taken in Gaza — she further affirmed that, ultimately, there is no military solution that will bring a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians. The protection of civilians is the most urgent priority, and she joined calls for a humanitarian pause to provide neutral, impartial, and independent humanitarian organizations an opportunity to provide assistance and protection to those in Gaza who desperately need it. Expressing regret that the Council has been unable to adopt a resolution, she called on the international community to urgently advance the Middle East peace process. “We must act now,” she stressed.
RENÉ ALFONSO RUIDÍAZ PÉREZ (Chile) said that his country promotes the two-State solution and the right of Israel and Palestine to live in harmony, within internationally secure and recognized borders, and with full respect for the human rights of all inhabitants. “Chile unreservedly condemns the actions of Hamas and all terrorist action, acts of violence and hostilities against the civilian population,” he said, calling for the unconditional release of all hostages in the hands of the terrorist organization. “The exercise of force as part of the legitimate defence of a State that has been attacked must be guided by the principles of proportionality, distinction and precaution,” he urged, adding that these things are not being respected and the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip has prevented the entry of food, water, medical supplies and energy sources necessary for human existence.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) conveyed Pakistan’s full support and solidarity with Pakistan’s Palestinian brothers and sisters in these tragic and challenging times. Israel’s relentless and indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza over the last 17 days has killed more than 5,000 people and injured another 15,000, he said, strongly and unequivocally condemning Israel’s airstrikes and military actions in Gaza, particularly attacks on schools, residential buildings and hospitals. These Israeli attacks on civilians, the blockade of water, food and fuel, and the forced transfer of people from the occupied territory are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and amounts to war crimes, and those responsible of these atrocities must be held accountable, he said, calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, saying the continuation of the Israeli campaign will lead to further massive civilian causalities and could trigger a wider and more dangerous regional conflict. He regretted the Security Council has been unable to issue a call for a ceasefire. A heavy responsibility rests on those who contribute to the prolongation of this conflict, he said.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) voiced his opposition to the withholding of access to basic necessities like water, food, electricity and fuel as weapons of war, and the targeting of critical civilian infrastructure. He also reported that his country, while it extends its deepest condolences to families that lost loved ones and its sympathy with everyone suffering, is also a victim, as Thai citizens have been killed, injured and taken hostage. He strongly appealed for their immediate release and safe return, condemning all forms of violence and attacks on civilians in conflict situations. He further urged all sides to respect and fulfil their obligations under international law and appealed to the international community to ensure access to humanitarian aid. He joined other speakers in calling for “all sides to take immediate steps to prevent the escalation of violence and implement an immediate ceasefire”, and he urged the Security Council do its utmost to restore peace and security in the region in line with the United Nations Charter.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Arab Group, recalled that on many occasions, her country over recent months has expressed caution against the intensification of Israeli policies, including attempts to change the historic status quo and geographical status quo of the holy sites. Over the last two weeks, it has made appeals and tireless diplomatic efforts for mediation and dialogue toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict, she added, noting her country’s efforts for the release of hostages from the Gaza Strip. She said Qatar strongly rejects the words of Israel, who gave a false image of the mediation efforts of her country, which were welcomed by friendly countries, the UN and international partners. Support provided by Qatar to civilians in Gaza covers humanitarian and development support for UN channels, and is part of its humanitarian and moral obligation to the Palestinian people. Its support is also in response to appeals from international partners, who called on her country to play a leading role to achieve stability for Gaza and the region, she added.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, noted that on 7 October, he issued a statement condemning the killing and wounding of hundreds of civilians in Israel, as well as the taking of hostages. Noting that Israel, the occupying Power, bears responsibility for protecting the civilian population and for the unfolding humanitarian disaster, he strongly condemned that State’s reprisal air strikes and bombardment of the densely populated Gaza Strip — killing, as of 23 October, over 4,651 Palestinians, including over 1,873 children, and injuring more than 14,245 Palestinians. Particularly abhorrent war crimes are attacks on medical facilities, like the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, where an air strike killed some 500 people, including medical personnel, or places of worship sheltering civilians, as the attack on the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyries Church.
Noting estimates that over 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced, he further condemned Israel’s military orders to “evacuate” to the south of the Strip. “There is nowhere safe to go in Gaza,” he stated. “Wars have rules,” he stressed, condemning collective punishment and calling for an immediate ceasefire and for Israel to immediately lift its total siege. Also reporting that UNRWA facilities are sheltering over 600,000 internally displaced persons, he urged Member States to provide urgent financial assistance. He further welcomed the decision by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel to collect evidence of war crimes committed by all sides. The current crisis has proved once again the need to “focus on our longstanding objectives: The end of the Israeli occupation and the fulfilment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and independence.”
CARLA MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) said: “We face a moment of deep sadness and pain for humanity,” noting that the crisis was triggered by the terrorist attacks by Hamas on 7 October. Adding that that group confuses the Palestinian cause with the justification of terrorism, she stressed that this is a “grave moral and strategic error”. The lack of recognition by the Council of the right of the Israel to self-defence is not a way of finding dialogue and peace in the region or the world. The Council should act to reduce polarization and clearly and unequivocally condemn Hamas’ actions. On humanitarian aid getting to Gaza, she urged that pauses are not unduly used by terrorist groups to commit fresh acts. She called for the Council to adopt balanced resolutions taking into account all the elements of a given situation, including, in this case, Israel’s right to self-defence.
ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada) stated that on 7 October, young women and men, nursing babies, mothers, fathers, grandparents, were all killed with a cruelty that knew no limits, for one reason: “Because they were Jews.” In too many places, those deaths were not condemned, in some, celebrated, in others denied, and “no false equivalence can excuse these atrocities.” Canada is unequivocal in its support for Israel’s right to defend itself; however, he echoed that counterterrorism measures must comply with international law. Stressing that the taking and holding of hostages is an ongoing war crime, he demanded that they be released. He warned that the conflict must not spread — noting that the rhetoric of Iran, declarations by terrorist group Hezbollah and rocket launches from actors in Lebanon and Yemen are incendiary. “On this UN Day, let us seek together to end the scourge of war between Israel and the State of Palestine,” he stated.
AMIR SAIED IRAVANI (Iran) said that the terrorist attacks on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, killing over 500 innocent civilians, can only be described as a heinous war crime. “As it was underlined by the UN Secretary-General in today's briefing, Palestinian anti-occupation on 7 October 2023 was not conducted in a vacuum,” he said, stressing that Palestinians have suffered occupation, discrimination and apartheid policies by the Israeli regime. The Security Council has faced obstacles in taking decisive action mainly due to the United States, which vetoed over 40 resolutions. “The United States' unwavering support for occupation and aggression has rendered it an active part of the problem,” he said, adding that it and other western States attempted to shift the blame from the wrongdoer to the victim. “There is no provision for an occupying regime to invoke the right to self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter but international law and the UN Charter indeed recognize the legitimate right to self-determination, as well as the right to self-defence for Palestinian people, including resistance groups like Hamas,” he emphasized.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) voiced his firm support for Israel in its right to defend to itself in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter. There is no justification for any kind of terror in the modern world, he said, reconfirming a strong condemnation of the Hamas attack that killed and wounded several thousand people, including citizens of Ukraine. He also condemned the taking of hostages and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all captives. Hamas has plunged the region into hostilities and is using civilians as human shields. It is critically important to avoid further civilian casualties both in Israel and Palestine, he added, urging the strict abidingness by the rules of warfare and respect for the norms of international law. More so, humanitarian support and access to Gaza must be maintained, he stressed, adding that the further escalation of the conflict in the region must be avoided.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), aligning with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, condemned the violence and brutal loss of lives in the conflict. He said the failure of the Security Council to act in these circumstances “is not only disappointing, but in its own way, affirms that there are significant inconsistencies in our application of the UN Charter”. He highlighted the prolonged occupation, settlement expansion and annexation as the root cause behind the current crisis and stated that the line must be drawn where indiscriminate and disproportionate force is used against innocent civilians, including children. His country calls for an immediate cessation of the conflict and condemns the abhorrent attacks on civilians, while underscoring the need for immediate humanitarian assistance commensurate to the needs of the civilians in Gaza. It also reaffirms its support for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation, and their inalienable right to self-determination, with East Jerusalem as capital.
AKAN RAKHMETULLIN (Kazakhstan) condemned the attacks by Hamas against Israel and the capture of hostages and called for their immediate and unconditional release. His country recognizes Israel’s legitimate right to security and defence, he said. Calling on Israel to refrain from the disproportionate use of force, he said it is crucial to comply with norms of international law and to implement Council resolutions, which secure the legal rights of Palestinians. He expressed solidarity with those who appealed to Israel to revoke the fixed time frame to evacuate the residents from the north of Gaza and to ensure the protection of civilians. He also called on all parties to immediately cease fire and engage in efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution according to the two-State solution. He further called for the resumption of dialogue by all sides to the conflict, accompanied by new measure to improve the humanitarian situation of the people of Gaza.
AHMAD FAISAL MUHAMAD (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and OIC, said that Gaza has been described as “the world’s largest prison”. Its continuous pummelling has turned that place into a “humanitarian catastrophe, indescribable in its magnitude”, he observed, adding: “It will get worse if this Council continues to be an arena for one-upmanship, blame-game and finger-pointing.” Joining others in demanding a ceasefire, he also called for unhindered humanitarian access. He said it is important to include fuel to keep hospitals and ambulances running, while also ensuring the supply of food and clean water. Calling against the forced displacement of the Gazan people, he emphasized: “The options before this Council are stark: act now and save lives or continue to dither and let more innocent people be killed.”
AMARA SHEIKH MOHAMMED SOWA (Sierra Leone) condemned Hamas’ indefensible attack against Israeli civilians on 7 October and called for the immediate, unconditional release of hostages. However, since those attacks, Freetown has noted escalating violence with concern — particularly Israel’s response — and he also condemned attacks on civilians and civilian objects. Welcoming diplomatic engagements that have led to a limited flow of aid into Gaza, he nevertheless underscored that UNRWA’s inability to provide adequate assistance to civilians in Gaza due to indiscriminate bombardment necessitates the establishment of a humanitarian ceasefire and corridors. Further, noting the danger a spillover of the current crisis would pose, he stressed that — if action is not taken — this would exacerbate the situation in a fragile region marked by mass displacement, “unimaginable” humanitarian crisis and insecurity. Only genuine dialogue and negotiation based on the two-State solution can guarantee lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, he said.
ARIEL RODELAS PEÑARANDA (Philippines) urged the Security Council to endorse and support coordinated efforts with UN entities for the safe evacuation and protection of migrants in conflict zones. He appealed to all parties involved to cooperate in safeguarding their security, stressing that the safety and well-being of approximately 30,000 Filipino nationals in Israel and a further 130 in Gaza remain paramount to his country. He voiced firm supports for a two-State solution, consistently aligned with past international agreements and relevant UN resolutions. “A lasting resolution can only be achieved through comprehensive dialogues and negotiations, anchored firmly in international law,” he stressed, urging all parties to elevate dialogue as the primary tool for a peaceful and lasting resolution. The Security Council, through prompt action, has the crucial task to bridge divides and champion the path to peace. “Now is the time for decisive and unified action,” he said.
TAREQ M. A. M. ALBANAI (Kuwait) said the collective punishment the Palestinians in Gaza are suffering is a matter not accepted by religion, law or human nature. “The current events do not require regular statements that we’ve listened to time and time again.” He said that the Council has failed to take an honest and clear position on the continued violation suffered by Palestinian civilians. He asked if we have reached such an ugly stage in the history of the Organization that we no longer care that some States are above the law and there are different degrees of civilians based on their nationality. He said that Kuwait’s solidarity with the Palestinians in defending their rights is a firm and principled position. He called for a comprehensive peace based on Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. There will be no peace except after the end of the occupation. He called for an immediate ceasefire.
HADI HACHEM (Lebanon) said that there is no law or doctrine that justifies the systemic killing of a population that lives in an open-air prison for more than half a century. “Speaking of resolutions, we regret to tell you that they have been disregarded completely and ignored by the Israeli occupying forces,” he said. “The arrogant Israelis have even not responded to the repeated calls of the UN Secretary-General because they do not believe in this Organization and do not believe in peace,” he continued, adding that the Arab States had accepted peace in 2002 through a Saudi initiative. He stated that all officials in his country are carrying out communications to dissociate Beirut from this bloody conflict. His country never desired a war. “Lebanon was never an aggressor, it has always been a victim of aggression by Israel since the 1960s,” he stated, reminding that Israel has maintained parts of Lebanon under its occupation. Stressing that Syrian refugees are a national priority in his country, he said: “There is one cry in Lebanon — we want a road map leading to a sustained settlement through cooperation with the international community.”
HOANG GIANG DANG (Viet Nam), expressing regret that Security Council has not been able to address the situation, stressed: “All violence must stop — now. An immediate ceasefire must be enforced.” Welcoming the mediation and reconciliation efforts of the UN and other regional and international organizations, he called for the revival of the Middle East Quartet peace process. He also urged both sides to cease provocative actions that fuel violence and animosity, stressing that the status quo of holy sites must be upheld. There can be no sustainable peace until the two-State solution is realized, he underscored, expressing hope that the Council can work together to de-escalate tensions, protect civilians and put an end to hostilities. “We, Member States, have entrusted the Council to act on our behalf. It is now the Council’s duty to carry out these urgent tasks,” he added.
ABBAS KADHOM OBAID AL-FATLAWI (Iraq), aligning himself with the Arab Group, said the carnage and destruction of Al Ahli Arab Hospital is “a continuation of the pattern of crimes perpetrated over seven decades against the people of Palestine”, overlooked by the international community, with no binding mechanisms for implementation of associated resolutions. Accordingly, this has emboldened the occupying Power to continue its crime without any deterrence. Iraq not only denounces Israel’s violations and crimes against defenceless Palestinians but demands the international community, particularly the Security Council, “put an end to these brutal acts and continued violations of international law and international humanitarian law”. He called on the Council to avoid selectivity; follow up on its decisions; open the border to allow for the entry of humanitarian and relief deliveries; and end the blockade of Gaza and the desecration of houses of worship. He further called that a fund be established for the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure in Gaza.
BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, recalled the bloc’s condemnation of Hamas’ brutal, indiscriminate terrorist attacks across Israel and called on the group to immediately release all hostages without preconditions. He further recalled that the European Union has emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law — including international humanitarian law, which makes clear that the protection of all civilians must be ensured by all parties to the conflict. Condemning all acts directed at civilians, he called for the protection of medical facilities, schools, UN premises and other infrastructure either meant to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance or civilian in nature. Additionally, access to necessities such as food, water, fuel, electricity, medical care and safe shelter must be urgently restored. To this end, humanitarian corridors and pauses must be established, and he welcomed the opening of the Rafah crossing.
For its part, the European Union and its partners are ready to continue supporting those most in need in Gaza, he said, reporting that the bloc has tripled its emergency assistance to the Palestinian people to a total of over €75 million. European Union member States have also individually increased their financial support, and the bloc has launched a humanitarian air bridge with flights to Egypt to bring life-saving supplies to humanitarian organizations on the ground in Gaza. Also underlining the need to allow citizens of third countries to leave Gaza, he called on all sides to allow safe passage for those who wish to do so. Further, it is crucial to prevent regional escalation — including a deterioration of the situation in the West Bank. He therefore called on regional actors to refrain from any action that can further aggravate the situation and urged broad engagement with the Palestinian Authority, Israeli authorities and regional and international partners that could help prevent further escalation.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) condemned once again the terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas against Israel and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of hostages of all nationalities, among them Argentinian citizens. Her Government recognizes the right of Israel to legitimate defence to protect its population, she said. She also condemned the attack against the Al Ahli Arab Hospital. Pointing to the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, she said humanitarian corridors must be opened so international aid can reach those who need it as swiftly as possible. She voiced hope that the reopening of the Rafah border crossing will be the first step towards sustained and safe provision of essential supplies. Her country is willing to cooperate with international efforts via the White Helmets and has notified both Israel and Palestine of the same, she said. Voicing concern about the increasing tensions along Israel’s border with Syria and Lebanon, she called on all parties to avoid an escalation of confrontation.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), noting that his country’s Prime Minister was one of the first global leaders to have conveyed his condolences for the loss of lives in the terror attack in Israel on 7 October, added: “We stood in solidarity with Israel at their moment of crisis, when they were facing these terror attacks.” Expressing deep shock at the loss of lives at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, he highlighted that India’s Prime Minister “clearly spelt out” that those involved must be held responsible. Reporting that his Government has sent 38 tons of humanitarian aid — medicine and equipment — to Gaza, he reiterated the need for the resumption of direct peace negotiations. India continues to support the Palestinian people through the bilateral development partnership that includes health, education, women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship and information technology, he stressed, adding that it also empowers grassroots Palestinian institutions in their development initiatives. Referring to a remark of “habitual nature” by one delegation, he said he will not “dignify those remarks with a response in the interest of time”.
MERETE FJELD BRATTESTED (Norway) said Israel has the right to self-defence, but such measures must be necessary and proportionate, including taking all feasible measures to prevent civilian casualties and reduce damage. “The news we are receiving about the humanitarian conditions inside Gaza is horrifying. This cannot go on.” She said her country is calling for a pause in the fighting to facilitate humanitarian access to Gaza. Most urgently, water and electricity supplies must be turned back on, and fuel allowed in, she said, adding that international humanitarian law applies to all parties of the conflict. She said that this is not the time to cease the support to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people. After this crisis, the parties must return to dialogue, to establish a political horizon for solving the conflict with a sovereign, Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel. “We must look beyond this war and beyond the logic of weapons,” she said.
JOAQUÍN PÉREZ (Venezuela) said that the impunity provided by the Government of the United States through its recurring veto in the Security Council in favour of its genocidal partner has “turned this body into a midwife of violence, death and destruction”. He noted the clear intention of the occupying Power and its main accomplice, the United States, to escalate the conflict and geopolitical tensions to maintain dominance in the region, including by launching operations on other fronts, with the purpose of completely redrawing the Middle East. “It is clear that the occupying Power thinks it is above the law and is not committed to the two-State solution,” he said, describing the situation on the ground as tragic. “Venezuela reaffirms its historic position of principles in support of the just Palestinian cause,” he stated, demanding from Israel to return to the path of international legality and to end the siege of the Gaza Strip and the forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population.
JAMES MARTIN LARSEN (Australia) said the 7 October attack and its aftermath demand comment: Hamas conducted a heinous terrorist attack and Israel has an inherent right to defend itself. Australia supports efforts to contain the conflict, he said, adding that Hamas’ actions precipitated a devastating scenario in Israel and in Gaza. Australia’s position is that the protection of civilian lives must be the utmost priority and that the rules of war, and international humanitarian law, must be observed. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire, he said, and called for immediate, safe, ongoing and unimpeded humanitarian access to provide civilians with essential aid. “Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people nor their legitimate needs and aspirations,” he said. “It stands in the way of a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians who have the right to live within secure and internationally recognized borders.” Enduring peace cannot be achieved through military means, he added.
DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia) said Israel applied a collective punishment on all Palestinians in Gaza, burning their houses and leaving them without food, fuel, medicine and water, further noting that it is inconceivable that the Council once again is paralysed in deciding on the situation. He urged the 15-member organ to act urgently as Palestinian lives have the same value as those of other people in the world. It is urgent that the killing and suffering of Palestinian civilians be stopped, he stressed, underscoring the priority of a ceasefire in order to provide urgent humanitarian assistance for the civilian population, particularly women, children, and older people. He called on the international community, through humanitarian agencies and UNRWA to provide support for those in need. Bolivia stands with the rights of the Palestinian people and highlights the recognition of Palestine as a full Member State in line with internationally recognized pre-1967 borders as the only formula to preserve its dignity and freedom, he said.
TOUFIQ ISLAM SHATIL (Bangladesh) stressed that Israel’s collective punishment of civilians “is unacceptable under all legal and moral doctrines”, calling for an immediate ceasefire to save the helpless population in Gaza. Expressing regret the Council failed to adopt a resolution to this end, he urged the organ to take the necessary steps for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. He also underscored that “it is our first duty” to ensure adequate humanitarian assistance for those who have survived Israel’s brutal attacks. While UNRWA has been a lifeline for Palestinians, he noted that 35 Agency personnel have been killed by Israel since 7 October — six in the last 24 hours — and that 40 Agency installations have been damaged. Such personnel and installations must be off limits to attacks, he stressed, further recalling that Israel has continuously disrespected resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. “And that is why we are here today,” he said, reiterating the need for a two-State solution.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said that in light of the challenges facing the region, his country’s priorities include an immediate ceasefire and the cessation of military operations, the provision of protection to innocent civilians on both sides, and the release of all hostages. He called once again for de-escalation, self-restraint and respect for international humanitarian law. He rejected any attempt to forcibly displace the Palestinian people from their homeland. His country is firmly committed to advancing the peace process to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, he said. The two-State solution is the only viable solution to achieve peace and stability, he said, underscoring the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to freedom and self-determination and the establishment of its sovereign independent State along the lines of June 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of the two-State solution.
KEITH MC BEAN (Ireland) called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. He condemned the terror attack by Hamas. He said that Israel has a right to defend itself in line with international law. Expressing concern over the killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip, he said that protection of civilians must be the immediate priority of the international community. He welcomed the initial supply of aid, highlighting that it is a small fraction of what is needed for Gaza. Essential goods including food, water, medical and energy supplies must urgently be restored and Israel must comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law. He said that his country has announced an additional package of €13 million for the crisis and that Member States should ensure that UNRWA has sufficient funding. The situation in the West Bank is deeply concerning, he noted, including an increase in settler violence and evictions of communities. “The seriousness of the situation there must not be forgotten.”
LAURI VOIONMAA (Finland), aligning himself with the European Union, condemned the terrorist attack by Hamas against civilians in Israel and recognized the right of that country to protect its civilian population. “We underline that military operations must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law,” he said, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages held in Gaza and commending the role of Egypt, Qatar and other countries in the region. Describing the humanitarian situation in Gaza as catastrophic, he said that his country examines options to increase its humanitarian aid to Gaza. “Avoiding escalation is crucial,” he stressed, commending Egypt for its initiative hosting the Cairo Summit for Peace and highlighting the constructive role of the Palestinian Authority. Stressing that the only sustainable way to end the conflict is a negotiated two-State solution, he said that Gaza and the West Bank must be considered together to create a viable Palestinian State.
PHILIPPE KRIDELKA (Belgium) aligned himself with the statement made by the European Union, in its capacity as an observer, and unequivocally condemned the Hamas attack, calling for the unconditional and immediate release of hostages. He recognized Israel’s inalienable right to defend itself but said that right must be exercised in compliance with international humanitarian law. Echoing remarks by the Secretary-General, he said that even wars have rules. The protection of all civilians must be the primary concern, he said, adding that Belgium doesn’t endorse total blockades, forced displacement or the use of civilians as human shields in any context. International law in this area must be respected by all parties, he said, expressing support for a ceasefire. Diplomatic efforts must focus on rapid de-escalation to prevent further suffering, he said, commending the efforts by Egypt. “The security of Israel and the legitimate claims of the Palestinian people are not mutually exclusive — quite the contrary,” he said.
SIDI MOHAMED LAGHDAF (Mauritania), speaking on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the meeting is convened amid the deadliest Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, which has surpassed all levels of brutality, terrorizing the entire civilian population and resulting in thousands of victims. In response to this heinous Israeli aggression, the OIC held an Extraordinary Open-ended Executive Committee meeting at the level of foreign ministers on 18 October and adopted a joint communiqué. It called for the immediate cessation of the barbaric Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and rejected the targeting of civilians under any pretext, their forced displacement from their homes, and their starvation and denial of safe access to humanitarian aid. “These actions are reprehensible and must be firmly rejected and condemned,” he said. OIC calls for an immediate halt to the unlawful aggression against the Palestinian people. There must be a ceasefire and there must be protection for the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
He underlined the need to urgently provide humanitarian, medical and relief aid, including food, water, fuel, electricity and non-food emergency items to Gaza Strip. He reiterated OICs’ categorical rejection of any attempts to violently and forcibly displace the Palestinian population, most of whom are already refugees, and “any attempts at the perpetration of another Nakba on the Palestinian people. This cannot be allowed to happen under our watch”. He expressed deep regret at the Council’s continued failure to take a decisive decision to halt the war crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, throughout Palestinian territory. “The Security Council is failing its historic obligations towards the Question of Palestine,” he said, and called for immediate action by the Council and the international community as a whole to halt the brutal Israeli aggression; end impunity and ensure the accountability of Israel for its war crimes and crimes against humanity, including this aggression and its more than 16-year illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip.
ALHAKAM DANDY (Syria) said Israel’s attacks in Gaza would not have happened had some Western countries not given it carte blanche “which they call the right to self-defence, providing it with an umbrella of impunity and protection”. Syria reiterates that the injustice suffered by the Palestinian people through decades of occupation is the main reason for the current escalation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and condemns the conduct of the United States and its allies in the Security Council, which has not only impeded the Council from fulfilling its responsibilities but supported Israel militarily and financially. His country therefore reiterates that the Council must uphold its responsibility to end Israel’s crimes and hold perpetrators accountable. He rejected attempts to equate the victim and the killer, reaffirming support for the Palestinian question and its associated inalienable rights to self-defence and establishment of an independent State with East Jerusalem as capital. He warned against continued attacks against Syrian territory, “which will lead the region into a larger violence that cannot be contained”.
HALA HAMEED (Maldives), calling on Member States to recognize the pain and suffering in Gaza, said: “We have reached the point where we cannot simply present dry facts and statistics.” She pointed out that Israeli military aggression against civilians and children has unleashed devastation that “words cannot describe”, expressing “not just dismay but disappointment” at the Council’s failure to act. Emphasizing that the attack on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital is “cruel, devoid of any semblance of human decency”, she said that this tragedy could have been avoided. As a demonstration of the Maldives solidarity with the Palestinian people, her country’s President has decided to send 2 million cans of tuna to Palestine, she reported, adding: “We hope that our small donation will remind our brothers and sisters in Palestine that we, in the Maldives, stand with them.”
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), aligning himself with the European Union, condemned attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups against Israel, calling on Hamas to immediately release all hostages without preconditions. Emphasizing Israel’s right to defend itself under international law, he said: “This war is not a choice of Israel, it is a choice of Hamas and other terrorist organizations with no regard for the consequences for the Palestinian population.” He also noted the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, welcoming the entry of aid convoys over past days and supporting calls to step up delivery — “while ensuring it is not abused by terrorists”. Further, regional and international efforts to prevent the Hamas-Israel conflict from spiralling into regional war are welcome. To that end, actions that incite violence — as well as support to terrorist groups — must be rejected. He added support for the United States draft resolution and expressed hope that the Council can take unified action.
ANA JIMÉNEZ DE LA HOZ (Spain), aligning herself with the European Union, said Israel’s right to defend itself must be carried out with full respect for international law. She called for a humanitarian pause. She said her Government will double its aid to Palestine in 2023 to meet the needs due to this conflict. Regional conflagration must be bypassed at all costs, she said, and as such political instrumentalization of the conflict must be avoided. It is essential to support the work of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has been contributing to reducing regional tensions. “We must now establish a credible perspective of peace for the day once the current hostilities end,” with the two-State solution being the way to find peace, she said. She called for an international peace conference as soon as possible after the cessation of current hostilities. We must recover the spirit that guided the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and the Oslo Accords, she added.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) said that despite the Security Council meetings over the last two weeks, the massacres by the occupying Power against the Palestinian residents continue, claiming the lives of more than 5,800 people, including more than 2,000 children. The Council failed to find consensus to reach a ceasefire and provide a humanitarian response in line with Article 24 of the Charter of the United Nations, he said, adding that the killing, destruction, displacement and blockade of the Palestinian people is an expected outcome of longstanding international silence on the disregard for international humanitarian instruments by the occupying Power. It is unacceptable for the Council to remain hostage to polarization and political calculation, he said. “The current international response to the serious situation in the region and the genocide against the Palestinian people is totally against universal values and the goals and principles of the UN Charter,” he said. “It also undermines the confidence of people in the international order.”
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) expressed grave concern over the escalation of violence in Gaza and called for the free movement of essential items and humanitarian aid, including fuel, food, medicine, water and electricity to Gaza. He called on all sides to immediately halt violence and take steps to prevent further civilian casualties. He also called on the international community to redouble their support for UNRWA, which is playing a commendable and courageous role in helping vulnerable populations under extremely challenging circumstances. He reiterated a call to keep open a humanitarian corridor to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the civilians in Gaza. Sri Lanka is no stranger to the scourge of terrorism, he said, condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and calling for the immediate release of all hostages taken into Gaza.
VICTOR ÓSCAR SHIYIN GARCÍA TOMA (Peru), while rejecting terrorism in all its manifestations, reiterated that the right to self-defence must align with international law and international humanitarian law, particularly considering the principles of distinction and proportionality, without consequences on the civilian population. He urgently called on the parties to immediately end hostilities and condemned the firing of missiles into Israel from the Gaza Strip and the indiscriminate aerial and land bombardments by Israel in response. Peru condemns the attack on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital and adds its voice to the calls for an immediate and unconditional release of hostages and for Israel to facilitate swift access for humanitarian aid by establishing a humanitarian corridor. He further regretted the veto by a permanent member on the proposed resolution to achieve a ceasefire. His country backs the fulfilment of resolution 2334 (2016), which calls for all settlement activities to cease and a solution on the basis of the 1967 borderlines.
GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, citing Pope Francis, said: “Terrorism and extremism fuel hatred, violence and revenge and only cause mutual suffering.” He also reiterated the call of Pope Francis for the immediate release of all hostages held in Gaza, stressing that the right to self-defense in every conflict must comply with international law and the principle of proportionality. Expressing concern about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, he emphasized that the total siege imposed on that territory has caused indiscriminate suffering. In this regard, he called for enabling humanitarian corridors to ensure that aid can reach the Palestinian people. “While the path of dialogue appears narrow at present, it is the only viable option for a lasting end to the cycle of violence that has engulfed that land, so dear to Christians, Jews and Muslims,” he emphasized.
THORDUR AEGIR OSKARSSON (Iceland) said his delegation is appalled by the recent hostilities in Israel and Palestine and deeply concerned over the risk of further escalation. Iceland deplores the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the thousands of civilians, including children, that have been killed. It has condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric acts committed by Hamas, noting that terrorism can never be justified, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages. He also reiterated that while Israel has a clear right to defend itself, it must do so within the bounds of international law. A credible process towards a two-State solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition is needed. This will not be achieved while Israel continues its settlement policies in the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza or while Hamas continues to wage terror on innocent civilians, he said.
PAUL BERESFORD-HILL, Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the United Nations, noted that perhaps this moment of global introspection, with the fear of a potential to escalate into another Balkan crisis reminiscent of the First World War, will result in something more than safe corridors, or 20 trucks a day bringing critical aid to 2 million people, or the staggered release of innocent hostages. “All these things are necessary and needed but are they enough,” he asked. He appealed to everyone in the room, on behalf of the world’s forgotten, of the sick and the poor, to find a path to peace in the Holy Land, a path that is rooted in justice and humanitarian law, and one that will finally turn swords into ploughshares and end the suffering and privation of the innocent. He voiced hope for a solution that will hold fast to “the revealed truth of Allah, of Yahweh and our Heavenly Father — the one God of the three Abrahamic faiths”, who at one and the same time is a God of mercy, love, compassion, and, above all, a God of forgiveness.
NEISHANTA ANNASTACIA BENN (Guyana) urged the parties to lay down their arms to ensure the protection of civilians, stressing that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is at risk of becoming further deepened and protracted, involving mass displacements, severe medical emergencies and food insecurity. “The overwhelming human costs of the current hostilities compel the most urgent efforts to de-escalate the situation,” she stressed, expressing concern over rhetoric that suggests that de-escalation may yet be a long way off. Conscious about the long-standing suffering of the Palestinian people under the illegal occupation and blockade on their territory, she emphasized that this “decades-long indignity” must be brought to an end. Further calling on the Council to unite and to send a clear message to the people of Israel and Palestine that it stands with them, she added: “The lives of men, women, and children — children! — depend on this.”
SOPHEA EAT (Cambodia) joined others in mourning the loss of many innocent lives, including one student from her country. Calling on both sides to prioritize peace in order to exercise their rights to development rather than suffering an enduring war, she underscored the importance of addressing the root causes of the Palestine-Israel conflict. She said it is heartbreaking to see an increasing number of civilian casualties, urging all parties to exercise utmost restraint. Emphasizing that civilian lives and safety must be protected from harm in conflicts, she urged the parties not to target civilian infrastructure and for them to allow humanitarian access for the delivery of essential aid. Furthermore, she called on the Security Council and the international community to unite in a spirit of solidarity and sincerity to foster a meaningful dialogue and negotiations leading to peace.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union, condemned Hamas’ terrorist attacks — along with the continuous, indiscriminate firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip — and demanded the immediate, unconditional release of all hostages. While underscoring that Italy stands in solidarity with Israel, he added: “At the same time, we cannot ignore that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people and that Palestinian people in Gaza have been suffering immensely in recent days.” Therefore, the grave humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip must be urgently addressed by allowing the safe, unimpeded passage of aid. Also noting that the Middle East is “becoming a powder keg” and that the risk of the conflict spilling over to the region “is just around the corner”, he said that his country continues constructive engagement with partners in the region. Adding that all parties must take immediate steps to de-escalate, he underlined the need for a two-State solution.