22 November 2023,
Thank you, Mr. President,
I thank Executive Directors Bahus, Russell and Kanem for the information provided.
Like many, we welcome the agreement reached to ensure the release of some of hostages captured by Hamas. Women and children illegally held in captivity for more than 7 weeks will finally be reunited with their loved ones.
We commend the efforts of all those involved – the United States, Qatar and Egypt. We encourage them to continue and reiterate our call for the release of all innocent civilians.
The four day pause and the partial release of hostages goes in the same direction as the resolution 2712 adopted recently by the Security Council.
This momentum should be fully used to contribute to ensure delivery of critical and vital humanitarian aid for the civilians in Gaza.
Humanity must always prevail for things to get better.
We acknowledge the extremely difficult circumstances the UN Agencies and their international partners continue to face while operating on the ground. We pay tribute to their extraordinary efforts to help those in need. The pause will bring the much-needed relief to facilitate their work, guarantee their safety and ensure immediate, unrestricted humanitarian access for all civilians in need, to save lives and prevent further human suffering.
Saving lives is the UN’s core mandate; it is the calling of those who serve it. This makes even more incomprehensible the unprecedented and unjustified losses the UN family has endured with more than 100 of their staff killed in the line of duty.
In the face of the abhorrent massacre by Hamas of Israeli citizens, a carnage that evokes some of the darkest memories, we understand efforts to root out Hamas in an act of self-defense and make sure such attacks never happen again. In the news world, the latest bad news quickly overshadows previous ones. Hamas’ horrific crimes cannot be forgotten or relativized and should not go unpunished.
At the same time, we also acknowledge that fighting in such densely populated area is very challenging because Hamas’ military capabilities and its war infrastructure are deeply embedded within Gaza; its fighters intentionally hide among civilians, exposing then deliberately to high and heightened risks.
Wars, even the most carefully planned ones, are always a tragic event as many things may and do go wrong.
We are dismayed by the extreme disproportional impact the Israeli response on Hamas is having on civilian lives in Gaza. The death toll on civilians is utterly disturbing and the rules of protection of civilians in conflict are being challenged constantly.
The bombardments, the huge number of displaced people, the collapse of water and electricity systems, the lack of fuel and the limited access to food and medical supplies are, as we heard from the briefers, severely impacting maternal, newborn and child health care in an already dire humanitarian crisis.
We have said it many times: Wars have laws and they must be respected. Anywhere, hospitals and schools enjoy protection under international humanitarian and this should not be different in Gaza.
While it responds to terror, Israel must fully abide by the international humanitarian law, in line with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.
Let not forget that any military strategy that ignores the human costs, could ultimately end up having adverse effects, which, in the long run, risk to play into the hands of extremists, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.
As we are all aware, the Israel-Hamas war has spilled on the world stage. Sharp political and social polarization has deepened far from the conflict zone. In such troubled times people do little efforts to understand, they rush to take sides, and, many times, this unleashes the worst.
We see with worry an alarming rise of acts of antisemitism, dehumanizing language, multiplied acts of hate, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian sentiments. They are become commonalities to unite multiple different and competing bigot groups, which can quickly metastasize into blind violence. The longer the war endures, the greater the danger to see they further expand and exacerbate.
Today, the prospects for peace and long-lasting solution may well seem more distant than ever. We must resist this idea and feeling, and should think and work for the day after the current conflict.
Israel’s right to exist and its security on one hand, and a viable pathway for Palestinians to have their own state and freedom on the other, are not mutually exclusive. To the contrary, they form the tandem, the foundations of a future in security, dignity and prosperity for all.
As Prime Minister Rama has said yesterday, “Palestinians in Gaza cannot be left with the impossible choice, either Hamas or Israel.
We all have the duty to do more and better and work for a Gaza free of Hamas but also without Israeli troops, and able to reorganize its life and future in peace and in freedom.