Thank you for convening this emergency meeting. I would also like to thank Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths and Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for their very sincere description of a most sombre situation. I would also like to thank them for all their efforts, and above all their teams, for their work and their courage in the most difficult situations and circumstances. And I would like to express our condolences to the families of the victims of the humanitarian aid workers who lost their lives.
As early as 7 October, Switzerland strongly - strongly - condemned the acts of terror, indiscriminate attacks and hostage-taking perpetrated by Hamas against the Israeli population. We call for all hostages held in Gaza to be treated humanely and released immediately, and our thoughts remain with them.
Switzerland joins the Secretary-General in unequivocally condemning yesterday’s strikes, in particular the one that left hundreds dead and dozens injured at the Al-Ahli Anglican Episcopal Hospital, according to the United Nations.
We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and of the injured. This incident must be thoroughly investigated so that the facts can be clarified.
Mr President, we can only repeat it again and again: the civilian population and civilian objects must be respected and protected. International humanitarian law also requires that hospitals, clinics and the people who are treated there, as well as the medical staff who work there, be protected. The same applies to UNRWA schools, which are civilian facilities of the UN.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate rapidly. Water and power cuts are causing a serious health crisis. Nearly a million Gazans have had to flee their homes to take refuge in the south. The Gaza Strip is under complete siege.
UNRWA schools act as vital shelters for 400,000 displaced persons, many of them children. The capacity of these schools, as well as those of the hospitals, has been exceeded.
All parties must allow the safe, rapid and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid. We urge them to immediately observe pauses in hostilities, respectively, as requested by the Secretary-General, a humanitarian ceasefire.
As we repeated after the vote this morning: all parties must exercise the utmost restraint in the conduct of hostilities. They must respect international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and human rights. All possible measures must be taken to avoid the impact of hostilities on the civilian population and civilian. As international humanitarian law takes account of legitimate security and military necessity, all its rules must be respected without exception.
We stress the need to investigate all violations of international law so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice. Respect for international humanitarian law – as we have heard – can and must also curb a spiral of violence that could engulf the entire region.
Switzerland underlines the importance of the good offices of the United Nations in this crisis, and we thank them. We welcome the Secretary-General's visit to Egypt and the region. As Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths and UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said yesterday in a joint statement, and I quote: “Humanity must prevail in Gaza”.
Humanity must prevail everywhere.
De-escalation must remain our priority. As members of the Security Council, we must redouble our efforts to contribute to this, and exert our influence, individually and collectively, on the parties to do the same.