Thank you, Madam President,

And thank you Linda for bringing us here to hear these moving testimonials. I would like to thank Professor Halperin-Kaddari for her presentation, as well as Dr Haran, Mrs Samerano and Mr Roman for their testimonies and for their courage. I don't think that our words can reflect your personal suffering, and for that I apologize.

Switzerland is deeply shocked by the accounts of relatives – yours as well as all the others – and survivors of the acts of terror and hostage-taking perpetrated by Hamas on October 7, which it has strongly condemned.

And I wish to express our condolences to the families of those who had to die, and our deepest sympathy to the survivors of these acts, like Dr Haran.

The dignity of the victims and survivors must be respected in all circumstances and we can only imagine the trauma they are experiencing. Our support also goes to the relatives of the 132 hostages still being held in Gaza. Switzerland calls for their immediate and unconditional release, as it did with this Council in its resolutions 2712, 2720 and 2728. And we will continue to work to ensure that these resolutions are respected.

A study by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), which we supported, showed that sexual and gender-based violence is regularly used by terrorist groups as a strategic tactic to advance their cause. However, sexual violence, hostage-taking and attacks against the civilian population are prohibited under international law. Switzerland reiterates its firm condemnation of these serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. It recalls that these acts may constitute war crimes, whoever the perpetrators and victims are.

Under the Geneva Conventions, women and children are protected in particular against any attack on their honor and against rape. Yet, according to the latest report by Special Representative Pramila Patten, there is "clear and convincing information" that “rape, sexualized torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment were inflicted on some women and children” during the attacks and during their captivity in Gaza, as well as “reasonable grounds to believe that such violence is continuing”.

We call for the facts to be established by competent, independent and impartial international bodies - such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or the Commission of Inquiry. These bodies must be given the necessary access. Effective prosecution on the basis of international law is necessary to combat impunity and hold criminals to account - as called for by the Professor.

Switzerland also reiterates its profound concern about the information also contained in the UN Special Representative's report on sexual and gender-based violence against Palestinians in places of detention, as well as during raids on homes and checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank.

We call on the parties to grant the ICRC access to all persons deprived of their liberty in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Palestinian hostages and detainees.

Madam President,

An immediate ceasefire is essential. Without further delay, the parties must implement their obligations under international law to protect civilians and ensure the rapid, safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza by all possible means.

The consequences of a large-scale military offensive in Rafah on humanitarian aid and the entire civilian population, including hostages, are unacceptable. Civilians are paying a particularly high price. For this reason, Switzerland reiterates its opposition to the current operation and calls for its immediate cessation.

The Security Council and the states with influence over the parties to the conflict must at all costs put an end to the violence and relaunch a process of dialogue with a view to a political solution to contribute to a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine, of which Gaza is an integral part, living side by side, in peace, within secure and recognized borders.

But let me say, before I finish, as you wished: we're not going to forget your loved ones, we're really going to think about them, tonight and every evening thereafter.

Thank you.