World Health Organization Chief, Briefing Security Council on War in Gaza, Joins Calls for Immediate Ceasefire, Unfettered Humanitarian Access
One Child Killed Every Minute; Risk of Disease Growing; ‘Nowhere is Safe’
Describing a health system that is on the verge of collapse, the head of the United Nations health agency urged the Security Council today to secure an immediate ceasefire and unfettered humanitarian access in Gaza where “nowhere and no one is safe” as the war between Israel and Hamas rages on.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the situation is impossible to describe, with hospital corridors crammed with the injured, the sick and the dying, morgues overflowing, and surgical procedures conducted without anaesthesia. Thousands of displaced people are sheltering at hospitals, with 70 per cent of the more than 10,800 people so far killed being women and children. “On average, a child is killed every 10 minutes in Gaza,” he stated.
Some 1.5 million people now are displaced and looking for shelter anywhere, but “nowhere and no one is safe” and overcrowding is increasing the risk diarrheal and respiratory diseases and skin infections, he said. WHO, which was part of the first aid convoy to enter Gaza through the Rafah Crossing on 21 October, has since delivered 63 metric tons of specialist medical equipment and supplies, but this does not address the scale of needs, he added.
Since 7 October, WHO has verified more than 250 attacks on health-care facilities in Gaza and the West Bank, in addition to 25 attacks on similar sites facilities in Israel, he added. He called for unfettered access into Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid, for Hamas to release its hostages and for Israel to restore electricity, water and fuel supplies. He also called for a ceasefire and for both sides to abide by international humanitarian law.
Marwan Jilani, Director General of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which is responsible for receiving and distributing humanitarian aid through the Rafah Crossing, said that not a single drop of fuel has entered — and without fuel or aid, particularly in the north of the Gaza Strip, many people will starve or die of thirst and disease. The Council and the international community must ensure that an effective and immediate ceasefire is enforced, that fuel gets into Gaza immediately and that humanitarian aid is increased, with deliveries getting into northern Gaza, he said.
The Council must also ensure respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians in all parts of Gaza, he stated. Moreover, it must ensure that hospitals get much-needed fuel, medicine and medical supplies, and that fresh medical teams be allowed to enter to relieve health workers who have been working tirelessly for the past 34 days. Council members must urgently do all they can to spare further deaths and suffering of civilians, he stressed.
“Where should Palestinians go? To the sea? Or out of the Gaza Strip?” asked the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, at the start of the ensuing debate. Hospitals in Gaza have become Israel’s primary target, he said, adding that while Israel calls for the release of 200 hostages, it has itself taken 2 million hostages — a reference to Gaza’s population. The only options that Israel has ever given the Palestinians is to submit, leave or die — or in international legal terms, apartheid, ethnic cleansing or genocide, he stated.
Israel's representative said that his country is providing safe passage for Gazans to exit an active war zone, but Hamas is preventing them from leaving. Israel has also exposed to the world that Hamas has its headquarters in and under Al-Shifa Hospital, he added, stating that over 16 years, Hamas has turned every inch of Gaza into a “terror trap”, using medical workers and patients as human shields. The Government of Israel has gone above and beyond to mitigate civilian casualties, but Hamas must be held accountable, he said, emphasizing: “Israel is fighting the war for its very future and existence.”
Among Council members, speakers were united in their concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and renewed their call for unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access. They remained divided, however, on how the 15-member organ should respond — with some urging an immediate ceasefire, while others underlined the importance of humanitarian pauses.
The United States’ representative detailed how his country is working with Israel, Egypt and the United Nations to ensure the entry of food, fuel, water and medicines into Gaza, but acknowledged that the quantity is nowhere near enough. Beginning today, Israel will enact four-hour pauses in its military operations in northern Gaza, to be announced three hours ahead, he said, adding that such pauses will also help in the context of the safe release of hostages.
The Russian Federation’s delegate noted his country’s efforts, including an announcement by its Emergency Ministry on 10 November of the delivery of a fourth consignment of 25 tons of food and medicine to Egypt. However, the United States is obstructing peace initiatives, he said, emphasizing the importance of a ceasefire. “Only this, and not certain short-term pauses, is the only real measure that would help avoid new casualties,” he said.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates, which requested today’s meeting, said that Israel must end its siege of Gaza and reinstate essential services. Its attacks will not bring security to that country, she added. Sustained and multi-day humanitarian pauses or truces — which are fundamental for achieving the goal of a durable and sustained ceasefire — must be activated, she stated, emphasizing that the two-State solution must be the overarching goal for achieving peace and stability in the Middle East.
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said he fully understands the anger, grief and fear of the Israeli people following the barbaric attacks by Hamas and other armed groups on 7 October, as well as that of the people of Gaza who have already suffered 16 years of blockade and are now enduring the destruction of their families and homes. “The situation on the ground is impossible to describe.” Hospital corridors crammed with the injured, the sick and the dying, morgues are overflowing and surgical procedures are being conducted without anaesthesia. Thousands of displaced people are sheltering at hospitals or crammed inside overcrowded schools, desperate for food and water. Seventy per cent of the more than 10,800 people have now been killed in Gaza are women and children, he said, adding: “On average, a child is killed every 10 minutes in Gaza.”
He noted that 1.5 million people are displaced and looking for shelter anywhere, but “nowhere and no one is safe”. Overcrowding is increasing the risk diarrheal and respiratory diseases and skin infections. WHO is on the ground in Gaza alongside its partners to support health workers doing their best in unimaginable conditions. In addition to caring for 27,000 wounded people, many with life-threatening injuries, medical staff are trying to manage the regular health needs of more than 2 million people. More than 180 women give birth in Gaza every day, he said, adding that there are also 9,000 patients in Gaza on cancer therapy and 350,000 with diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
Since 7 October, WHO has verified more than 250 attacks on health-care facilities in Gaza and the West Bank, in addition to 25 attacks on health-care facilities in Israel, he said. Last week, WHO documented five attacks on five hospitals in one day. In the past 48 hours alone, four hospitals have been put out of action. Half of the Gaza Strip’s 36 hospitals and two thirds of its primary health-care centres are not functioning at all, while the others are operating way beyond their capacities. “The health system is on its knees and yet somehow is continuing to deliver some life-saving care.” The best way to support those health workers and patients is to give them the tools they need — medicines, medical equipment and fuel for hospital generators, he said.
WHO was part of the first aid convoy to enter Gaza through the Rafah Crossing on 21 October and has since delivered 63 metric tons of specialist medical equipment and supplies, but this does not address the scale of needs, he said. Before 7 October, an average of 500 trucks a day crossed into Gaza with essential supplies, but since 21 October, only 650 trucks have entered. He called for unfettered access to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, for Hamas to release hostages and for Israel to restore electricity, water and fuel supplies. He also called for a ceasefire and for both sides to abide by international humanitarian law.
MARWAN JILANI, Director General, Palestine Red Crescent Society, said that the health sector in Gaza is under attack. Hospitals are being deliberately targeted in a desperate attempt to force the civilian population out. The last 24 hours saw the targeting of at least four hospitals in Gaza: Al-Shifa hospital, where more than 60,000 people were sheltering; Al-Awda hospital, where ambulances were bombarded and the emergency paramedics miraculously escaped certain death; the Indonesian hospital and the Al-Quds hospital. The situation with hospitals changing by the minute, he said, adding: “Displaced people at the hospital are getting shot at, as we speak.” He said that in a telephone call two hours earlier, colleagues at the Al-Quds hospital said that one person was killed and about 30 others injured by direct firing. “They are asking, ‘What can they do? Where should they go?’ Thousands of innocent lives are under imminent threat of being killed.”
He urgently called on Council members, on behalf of the staff and volunteers besieged in Al-Quds hospital, to do all they can to spare further deaths and suffering. “The same disastrous situation surrounds all the hospitals in Gaza city and all those inside them.” He reported that 14,000 displaced civilians are at Al-Quds hospital, in addition to 400 sick and wounded patients, and there is a serious risk that all intensive care patients, and children in incubators, will die as the main generator was shut off two days earlier due to lack of fuel. He said that he was prepared to tell the Council about critical shortages of fuel, food and water, but his concern now is the direct threat to the lives of the sick and wounded as well as tens of thousands of civilians, including thousands of children. “They are looking at you, imploring you to act to stop another possible massacre unfolding,” he said.
“In addition to the imminent threat of being shot and killed, the 14,000 displaced civilians at the hospital are getting restless and desperate, because of lack of water, food, electricity,” he continued. Diseases are spreading and wounds were being infested with worms. “A child was treated for eye infection, the doctor found worms in his eyes.” He also described losses suffered by medical teams, including one doctor at Al-Quds Hospital who lost 36 family members. “The description of the situation at Al-Quds hospital, does not and cannot describe the absolute horrors, the trauma and psychological scars of sleeping every night under the terrorizing bombardment and not knowing whether they will be alive the next morning or not,” he said.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society is responsible for receiving and distributing humanitarian aid through the Rafah Crossing, but what has come in so far represents less than what used to enter Gaza in two days, he said. Not a single drop of fuel has entered — and without fuel or aid, particularly in the north of the Gaza Strip, and many people will starve or die of thirst and diseases. He once again called on the Council and the international community to ensure that an effective and immediate ceasefire is enforced, that fuel gets into Gaza immediately and that humanitarian aid is increased, with deliveries getting into northern Gaza. The Council must also ensure respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians in all parts of Gaza. Finally, he called on the Council to ensure that hospitals continue to function with much-needed fuel, medicine and medical supplies, and with fresh medical teams allowed to enter to relieve those who have been working tirelessly for the past 34 days. “Please listen to the cries of children soaked in blood and asking, ‘Why?’ What have they done — and why the world is so indifferent to their lives.”
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that hospitals in the Gaza Strip have become Israel’s primary target. “They are besieged and their vicinity bombed.” His generation, which 75 years ago experienced the Nakba, often said that if the world knew and witnessed the Palestinians’ pain, it would never have allowed that event to happen, but “we were so wrong”. It does not matter that the latest massacres in Gaza are being reported live or that they are being justified by pundits and spin doctors with all kinds of excuses. Israel is not hiding its intentions, including for a mighty vengeance that amounts to collective punishment of an entire people. Israel calls for the release of 200 hostages, while itself taking 2 million hostages. It proclaims its right to self-defence while occupying, colonizing and denying every right to the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination and self-protection. Israel rejects any insinuation that it does not uphold the laws of war, but commits crimes against humanity on camera, he said.
“Where should Palestinians go? To the sea? Or out of the Gaza Strip?” he wondered. Israel feigns surprise over why Palestinians are staying, but it is because his nation has experienced in the flesh the great exodus, he added. “It is our national trauma.” Israel wants everyone to forget the statements from members of its Government on their desire for forced displacement; rather, it says that it wants Palestinians to go south for their safety. Never mind that people have gone south and are still bombed. The only options Israel has ever given the Palestinians is to submit, leave or die — in international legal terms: apartheid, ethnic cleansing or genocide, he continued. In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel’s settlers and forces have killed 350 Palestinians since the beginning of this year, half of them in the last month, and forcibly displaced hundreds while also seizing large areas of land. Israel is allowing a few humanitarian trucks to reach Gaza to pretend it is not imposing the siege, but that is not enough to save lives, and it is implementing imaginary humanitarian pauses whose only goal is to force people to flee not to guarantee their survival, he said.
GILAD MENASHE ERDAN (Israel) recalled that Kristallnacht, “the first hyper-violent exposure of Nazi Jew hatred,” occurred 85 years ago today. Now, 34 days after 7 October — another event forever seared into the collective trauma of the Jewish people — the Council has still not condemned the planned massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas. “Should this Council in its current form have existed in 1938, I doubt that the response would be much different.” Israel has exposed to the world that Hamas has its headquarters in and under Al-Shifa Hospital, he said, adding that his country has provided footage of terrorists existing adjacent tunnels as well as videos of “Hamas ISIS” using ambulances to transport weapons and terrorists. Stressing that over 16 years, Hamas has turned every inch of Gaza into a “terror trap”, using medical workers and patients as human shields. Israel is providing safe passage for Gazans to leave an active war zone, but Hamas is preventing them from leaving. Emphasizing that the Government of Israel has gone above and beyond to mitigate civilian casualties, and that it has formed a task force to establish field hospitals in southern Gaza, he said: “For Israel, life is sacred. Yet, for Hamas, death is sacred.”
“Israel is fighting a war that it did not start or want,” he continued. Calling Hamas responsible for Gaza’s civilian population, he added: “While Hamas must be held fully accountable, there is another body, sadly, that is complicit — the UN.” For years, the Organization has refused to establish a verification mechanism to provide a truthful picture of reality, while the Council has been spoon-fed lies. “Every piece of information that this Council receives comes from Hamas, not national UN employees in Gaza,” with terror operatives providing unverifiable and libellous information to UN bodies. “Stop believing Hamas’ lies, I beg you.” He went on to say that Israel is in talks with the United Arab Emirates, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and European counties to set up field hospitals and bring in hospital ships. It also facilitated Jordan’s air drop of medical assistance to hospitals in northern Gaza. “Israel is fighting the war for its very future and existence,” he stated.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), emphasizing the experiences of young people impacted by Israeli air strikes, said that all of the 2,650-plus people currently trapped under rubble in Gaza are human beings, with more than half of them children. She noted that the United Arab Emirates is establishing a field hospital in Gaza with Israel’s cooperation and working in solidarity with Gaza’s medical personnel, adding however that Israel’s attacks have been disproportionate, cruel and inhumane, and will not bring security to that country. Those held hostage in Gaza by Hamas are suffering under the same bombardments and psychological trauma, she said, urging their immediate release. Israel must end its siege of Gaza and reinstate essential services and items indispensable to human survival, including fuel, electricity and water. It is not enough to simply demand humanitarian access, she said, emphasizing that sustained and multi-day humanitarian pauses or truces — which are fundamental for achieving the goal of a durable and sustained ceasefire — must be activated. “It is unconscionable that it has been 33 days of the destruction of Gaza without any Council action and response. It is time to act, respond and save innocent lives,” she said, adding that the two-State solution must be the overarching goal.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States), emphasizing that all medical facilities must be respected and protected in line with international law, said that the United States is working tirelessly to enable a mechanism to deliver fuel to hospitals and to meet urgent needs in southern Gaza. However, Hamas is hoarding and siphoning fuel in northern Gaza and is callously and deliberately endangering Palestinians by using civilians as human shields and putting command posts beneath hospitals, schools and mosques. Israel’s operations must be consistent with international humanitarian law, he said, adding that the principles of proportionality and precaution apply. “Acknowledging one party’s suffering does not retract from another’s.” Noting the second visit in three weeks to the region by the Secretary of State of the United States, he supported Israel’s right to defend itself and underscored the need to protect civilians and surge humanitarian aid, including through humanitarian pauses. The United States is working with Israel, Egypt and the United Nations to ensure the entry of food, fuel, water and medicines into Gaza, but the quantity is nowhere near enough. Beginning today, Israel will enact four-hour pauses in its military operations in northern Gaza, to be announced three hours ahead, he said, adding that such pauses will also help in the context of the safe release of hostages. There must be no forcible displacement from Gaza, “not now, or after the war”, he said, adding that Gaza cannot be a platform for terror, nor must there be a blockade, a siege or a reduction of its territory.
SÉRGIO FRANÇA DANESE (Brazil), urging the Israeli authorities to exercise military restraint, also called on Hamas and other groups to cease all attacks on Israel’s territory. Calling for the protection of all medical facilities and personnel, he also advocated for a safe medical evacuation of the injured or ill. UNRWA’s delivery of WHO medical supplies to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on 8 November is a step in the right direction, he emphasized, expressing hope that the announcement of daily humanitarian pauses in northern Gaza will facilitate aid delivery. “Besides a humanitarian ceasefire, all parties must also commit to a cessation of hostilities,” he stressed, emphasizing that ICRC must be granted access to all hostages without delay. Noting that the crisis has a potential to escalate into a wider conflict, he underscored the importance of convening a conference — with the participation of a large number of States — that can promote a political solution. In that regard, he spotlighted the 2007 Annapolis Conference as an example.
ALLEGRA PAMELA R. BONGO (Gabon) said that for 35 days the world has witnessed a terrifying escalation of violence, first in Israel, then Gaza, and then in the occupied West Bank. She called for the urgent implementation of the General Assembly’s resolution adopted in October (document A/ES-10/L.25). Gridlock in the Council “defies all logic and is absolutely unfathomable,” she stated, expressing her shock at the strikes against schools, hospitals, ambulances and refugee camps. Further, the attack on the WHO and UNRWA convoy escorted by two ICRC vehicles, delivering vital medical supplies to hospitals in Gaza on Tuesday, was unacceptable. Such flagrant violations of international law must stop. She called for an end to shortages of supplies of essentials, a cessation of hostilities and the unconditional release of hostages. She also encouraged countries with influence on the parties to redouble efforts to promote de-escalation and a peaceful solution.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland), expressing deep concern over the impact of the conflict, called for the protection of hospitals, clinics, the people who are being treated there and for medical personnel. More so, she noted that the ICRC humanitarian convoy carrying emergency aid supplies towards Al-Quds hospital, that came under fire last Tuesday, illustrates the environment in which humanitarian organizations must operate in Gaza. It is essential that water, food, medical supplies and fuel can enter Gaza. To that end, Switzerland intends to provide an additional CHF 90 million in emergency humanitarian aid. Unequivocally condemning the acts of terror carried out by Hamas against civilian populations in Israel, she called for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages. While recognizing Israel’s right to ensure its defence, she emphasized that, in view of the increase in settler violence, the country is obliged to protect the civilian population.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) said that Israel has a right to defend itself while preserving the lives of civilians. Noting that the civilian population in Gaza is being exposed to dire sanitary conditions and a heightened risk of an epidemic, she called for a humanitarian truce that “should result in a ceasefire that we must work towards”. She further underscored the importance of unimpeded humanitarian access, stressing that all check points need to be open; the number of convoys needs to be commensurate with the needs; and the civilian infrastructure must be protected. Spotlighting the International Humanitarian Conference for the civilian population in Gaza — organized in Paris on 9 November at the initiative of President Emmanuel Macron — she said it has resulted in more than €1 billion of financial contributions. She also reported that France has provided €100 million and delivered 87 tons of humanitarian cargo, adding that 30 tons of humanitarian aid will be delivered as part of the European Union’s Humanitarian Air Bridge.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan) expressed regret that the Security Council has remained silent for more than a month since the conflict broke out with the horrifying acts of terror by Hamas in Israel on 7 October. Voicing support for humanitarian pauses, as well as humanitarian corridors, she stressed that the recently announced Flash Appeal requires $1.2 billion to meet immediate humanitarian needs in Gaza and the West Bank. To that, Japan is prepared to provide an additional humanitarian aid package of $65 million, in addition to the already-decided Emergency Grant Aid of $10 million. She called on all Member States and humanitarian partners to join this effort. Demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages, she warned that the situations in Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen are getting worrisome and that the rise in extremist settler violence is totally unacceptable. “A single miscalculation on any of these fronts could lead to a disastrous regional conflict,” she emphasized.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) stressed that humanitarian access, both through Rafah and other crossing points, needs to improve so that aid can reach the people who desperately need it. Further, such aid requires humanitarian pauses and fuel must be allowed to enter Gaza so that hospitals and water desalination plants can operate. Noting that since 7 October, the United Kingdom has been firm in its support for Israel’s right to self-defence following Hamas’ terrorist attack, she urged all parties to the conflict to take every possible step to minimize harm to civilians, health and humanitarian workers. The United Kingdom has been clear that Israel must do more to prevent escalation in the West Bank, and it condemns attacks against Israel from armed groups in the region, she emphasized. She also recalled that her country’s Foreign Secretary was in Riyadh yesterday discussing preventing regional escalation with the representatives of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the Palestinian Authority.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), noting the Council’s inability to reach a consensus on how to get the parties to end the hostilities, voiced hope that it can unite around a common approach to abate the hostilities and bring the warring parties to the negotiating table for a peaceful resolution. Noting the intention to allow a daily four-hour humanitarian pause in the fighting in northern Gaza, he stressed that “more can be done and more should be done”. Urgent conditions for safe humanitarian corridors, rescue and recovery operations and safe passage for the wounded, sick children, pregnant women, and caregivers must be created, in conformity with international humanitarian law. He called once again on all countries that have a moderating influence over the parties to intensify efforts aimed at stopping the fighting and securing the release of all Israeli and foreign captives. He also called again on the Hamas militia to immediately and unconditionally release all captured civilians.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), voicing regret that Hamas continues to ignore calls to release its hostages, underscored Israel’s legitimate right to self-defence against savagery. However, the humanitarian situation is not sustainable, he said, noting the passing of more than 800 trucks through Rafah Crossing. Hospitals must remain protected and urgent actions are required to ensure access to food, water, medicine and fuel, “not to Hamas and its fighters, but they should not be denied to civilians”, he said. While Hamas’ massacre cannot be equated with Israel’s military actions, international law must not remain “empty words”, he said, pointing to the staggering losses of civilian lives, including an “unbearable” number of children, which was “profoundly disturbing”. Taking note of the four-hour pauses in military action, he called for coordination with United Nations actors to enable humanitarian help. However, pointing out that UN workers have said these pauses are not enough, he underscored that those workers must be heard.
ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador) said that every armed conflict entails serious consequences for the health of the affected population, both due to the direct effect of the weapons used and the deterioration of health conditions caused by the destruction of areas and the suspension of basic services. He called for health facilities not to be targeted and for international humanitarian law to be respected at all times and by everyone. He said that hostages must be released and humanitarian aid must reach those needing it in a timely manner and with enough quantity. For this to happen, there must be a humanitarian truce. He noted that initiatives, such as the International Humanitarian Conference for Gaza, held yesterday in Paris, are worthy of praise, but, alone, are not enough. It is urgent that those who have the power of veto in the Council reach agreements that allow it to act.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that on 10 November the Russian Federation’s Emergency Ministry announced a delivery of the fourth consignment of 25 tons of food and medicine to Egypt. He also pointed to the “forgotten volatile situation” in the West Bank, consigned to oblivion in the shadow of the tragic events in Gaza, and highlighted the escalation of violence triggered by Israel’s security forces operations. Underscoring the importance of a ceasefire, he added: “Only this, and not certain short-term pauses, is the only real measure that would help avoid new casualties.” The obstruction of the peace initiatives by Washington, D.C., its so-called “peace acquis diplomacy” and absence of any negotiations progress has generated radicalizations, he said, stressing that the presence of American units and groups in the eastern Mediterranean are a part of the overall escalation. “One cannot allow third parties to exploit the Palestine-Israel confrontation to derail positive trends,” he asserted.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique) said depriving food, medicines, water and electricity to a trapped civilian population because of military action compounds the gravity of the worsening humanitarian situation. “This monstrous calamity will further alienate the Palestinian people for generations to come and undermine efforts towards achieving peace and stability in the region,” he warned. Urging full compliance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law, he stressed that an immediate ceasefire would halt and minimize civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure and ensure that aid can be delivered to Gaza. He called once again for immediate and decisive steps to de-escalate the situation and ensure sustained and unhindered access and safe delivery of life-saving aid. Underscoring the Council’s collective duty to ensure the protection of all civilians, both in Israel and Gaza, he said the longstanding need for a two-State solution, with Israel and Palestine, living side by side, in peace and security, must be at the centre of its efforts toward peace and justice in the region.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) voiced concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, with tens of thousands of injured, sick and displaced civilians sheltering in hospitals and schools. Those civilians are depending on their protected status under international law for safety. However, she stressed: “A relentless siege and daily aerial bombardments in one of the most densely populated places on Earth means that there are no safe zones in Gaza.” Deploring yesterday’s strikes against hospitals, including Al-Shifa, she emphasized that medical facilities, personnel and ambulances are protected by international humanitarian law and should not be targeted. While welcoming Israel’s announcement of daily pauses, longer sustained pauses are needed for humanitarian actors to address the rising needs of the civilian population, including urgent recovery operations for persons trapped under rubble, she said, reiterating her call for a humanitarian ceasefire, and adequate pauses leading up to it. She also reiterated her delegation’s urgent demand for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to safely release all hostages.
ZHANG JUN (China), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, said: “The world must speak out together. Enough is enough.” He called on Council members to do away with obstruction and take meaningful action for peace, emphasizing that a ceasefire without delay is needed, as the only hope for Gazans to survive. He also underscored that all, especially the major power with unique influence on both parties, should put aside geopolitical considerations and find an end to fighting. Calling for Israel to curb the intensification of settler violence in the occupied West Bank, he also voiced support for the Council to take urgent action to facilitate a sustained truce of multiple days and the opening of a green corridor for specialized agencies and equipment to enter Gaza to undertake rescue operations to save children. Further, medical evacuations should be made possible, he added, also calling on Israel to immediately lift the blockade to allow supplies into Gaza, and all crossings should be utilized.
Dr. TEDROS said that nowhere and no one is safe in Gaza. “Imagine that you are trapped in that situation… That is why we are asking for a ceasefire, for unfettered humanitarian access, and also for the Council to do everything it can to release hostages.” Recalling his visit to Israel in 2014, when he was Minister for Foreign Affairs for Ethiopia, he said that he emphasized then that the situation in Gaza was unsustainable and dangerous, and called for implementation of the two-State solution. That would be good for both Palestine and Israel, he recalled saying at the time, adding to his Israeli counterparts: “Please do it for your own sake.” He welcomed the Council’s emphasis on the two-State solution amid the current acute crisis and reiterated the need for urgent Council reform.