Thank you, Mr President, for organising this open meeting, but also for the moment of silence we were able to dedicate to all the victims.

I would also like to thank WHO Director-General Dr. Ghebreyesus and Mr Marwan Jilani, Director-General of the Palestinian Red Crescent, for their work in the most difficult circumstances and for their briefings, which reflect the extreme seriousness of the current situation.

Switzerland is deeply concerned by the impact of the conflict on civilians – women, men and children - and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Civilians are in urgent need of protection and assistance. The sanitary situation continues to deteriorate very rapidly for the civilian population including the one and a half million displaced persons who has been completely besieged for over a month, deprived of water, electricity and services essential to their survival.

International humanitarian law protects the civilian population and civilian objects. It must be respected at all times, by everyone, in particular the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in the conduct of hostilities. The medical mission, including medical transports, hospitals, clinics and the people who are treated there, as well as the medical personnel who work there, enjoy specific protection under international law. It must never be targeted.

An ICRC humanitarian convoy carrying emergency aid supplies towards the Al-Quds hospital came under fire last Tuesday. This incident - and we have heard others - illustrates the environment in which humanitarian organisations – impartial and bearing a universally recognised emblem – must operate in Gaza. I pay tribute to the dozens of staff – such as those of UNRWA and the Red Crescent – who lost their lives in the course of their duties. We also note with great concern the regular damage to hospitals, such as the An-Naser children's hospital.

The volume of aid is insufficient. Due to the lack of fuel, several hospitals and clinics have had to stop operating. It is essential that water, food, medical supplies and fuel can enter. In addition, aid must also reach the hundreds of thousands of civilians who are still in the north of Gaza.

The President of the ICRC has underlined it yesterday at the Paris Conference, I quote: “The immediate imperative is to save lives and preserve humanity. Rapid and sustained humanitarian access and supplies are desperately needed.”

We would like to thank France for organising this conference. Switzerland intends to provide additional emergency humanitarian aid worth CHF 90 million throughout the region.

Moreover, Switzerland will continue to work within this Council to the establishment of urgent measures – such as humanitarian pauses or truces – necessary to guarantee safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance.

Mr President,

Switzerland has condemned since 7 October and unequivocally the acts of terror and all the indiscriminate attacks carried out by Hamas against civilian populations in Israel. Switzerland calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the people taken hostage and currently detained in Gaza.

At the same time as it recognizes Israel's right to ensure its defence and security, Switzerland recalls that the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law are mandatory. Respect for international humanitarian law must remain a priority of this Council.

Moreover, Switzerland remains very concerned about the sharp increase in violence in the occupied West Bank. In view of the increase in settler violence, Switzerland recalls Israel's obligations under international law, including the obligation to protect the civilian population.

All violations of international law in Israel and throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

Finally, let us never lose sight of the fact that the only foundation on which peace and stability can rest is the two-state solution: two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, in peace, within secure and recognised borders. That is what we must all, together, commit to.

Thank you.