Thank you, Mr. President,

And my warmest thanks to Coordinator Tor Wennesland and OCHA’s Director Edem Wosornu for their presentations, which again, and again, and again, underline the urgency of the situation.   

Switzerland reiterates its call for an immediate ceasefire and a halt to the current military operation in Rafah, which we oppose. The consequences of this operation for a civilian population that has been prey to bombardments, repeated displacements and famine for over seven months are unacceptable. This population now needs assistance, not further suffering.

Since the adoption of Resolution 1265 on the protection of civilians, 25 years ago, this Council has adopted many resolutions to condemn and put an end to deliberate attacks against civilians, including acts of terror, hostage-taking and sexual and gender-based violence. 

The acts of terror and hostage-taking perpetrated by Hamas on October 7 in Israel - which Switzerland strongly condemned - violated all these resolutions. The accounts of the survivors of these attacks, including the hostages, and their families, bear witness to the violence to which they were subjected. These acts have left an indelible mark on them. Switzerland continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages. 

Since October 7, Switzerland has actively contributed to the adoption of three resolutions - 2712, 2720 and 2728. These resolutions have all called for the protection of civilians, notably through: a firm rejection of deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects protected under international law; a call for the release of the hostages; a reminder of the obligation to provide humanitarian organizations with full, safe, rapid and unimpeded access to civilians, including displaced persons; and a reiteration of the duty to ensure the safety, protection and freedom of movement of the personnel of humanitarian organizations, in particular the UN. 

It has to be said that these demands have not been implemented. Switzerland condemns the fact that the hostages have not yet been released, that hostilities continue to claim numerous civilian victims and to force hundreds of thousands of civilians, including many children, to flee their homes in appalling conditions of distress. 

Switzerland welcomes the efforts that have led to the establishment of an option to deliver humanitarian aid by sea. However, as Mrs. Edem Worsonu reiterated today, humanitarian aid entering Gaza remains largely insufficient. All parties, including third-party states, must fulfill their obligations to provide humanitarian access throughout the Gaza Strip and by all possible means. 

The recent death of yet another UN representative and I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family reminds us that humanitarian personnel must enjoy the protection and freedom of movement necessary to carry out their tasks. Obstacles to their work are a recurring problem in armed conflicts, and Switzerland is counting on the support of all Council members for the draft resolution it has prepared to this effect.  

Mr. President, 

This tragedy has gone on far too long. 

Switzerland calls for the implementation without further delay of the resolutions of this Council, including resolutions 2334, 2712, 2720 and especially 2728 as well, which are binding and demand respect for international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law. Switzerland is concerned about possible war crimes, recalls the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, takes note of the fact that the Court is seeking arrest warrants against certain individuals, fully supports the Court and stresses the importance of respecting its independence.

May this special week dedicated to the protection of civilians mark a decisive step towards deescalation and a first step towards the establishment of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We reiterate our firm support for the negotiated two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine, of which Gaza is an integral part, living side by side in peace and security within secure and recognized borders.

Thank you for your attention.