I thank you for convening this meeting, and Martin Griffiths and Ilze Brands Kehris for their briefings. Their analysis of the situation is unequivocal: the guns must fall silent if we want to stop the conflict spreading and the civilian population suffering, and if we want to facilitate humanitarian access and the release of hostages. This is why Switzerland is calling to take all measures to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access and to establish a sustained humanitarian ceasefire.
The unjustifiable acts of terror committed by Hamas on 7 October, the number of victims – nearly 1,200 –, the violence, particularly sexual violence suffered by many young women and girls, as well as the hostage-taking, were deeply shocking. We have firmly and unequivocally condemned them. We also reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages still held in Gaza. We continue to attach great importance to the right of each State to ensure its own security and the duty to protect its population and that under its control.
Since that day, we have witnessed an alarming increase in the level of violence and suffering in the Middle East. In Gaza, more than 23,400 people have been killed and more than 59,600 injured, according to OCHA.
Three months later, there is still no end in sight. It is our responsibility, as members of this Council responsible for ensuring international peace and security, to reverse this trend. The continuation of this violence not only threatens to destabilise the entire region, but also jeopardises the very foundations of the international system based on law and the fundamental principles of humanity.
In three months, the Gaza Strip has become uninhabitable and, in the words of the Secretary General, “no one is safe there”. As we speak, 85% of the population of Gaza, including many families with children, have been forced to flee. 1.4 million people are now crammed into 155 overcrowded and inadequately equipped UNRWA structures.
Switzerland also rejects and condemns all statements aimed at expelling civilians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including from Gaza. Switzerland recalls that the Geneva Conventions prohibit the forced transfer of populations, which can constitute war crimes. We call on the leaders of all parties to refrain from any unilateral measures, provocative acts or inflammatory statements, in particular those that may constitute a violation of international law.
It is urgent to negotiate a decisive turning point out of this crisis, which threatens the peace and security of Israelis, Palestinians, the entire region and far beyond. To this end, the full implementation of Council Resolutions 2712 and 2720 is essential. There is an urgent need to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza by ensuring rapid, safe and unhindered access in accordance with international humanitarian law.
The status quo is untenable for civilians. They are under serious threat from the continuing intense hostilities and the shortage of all the goods and services essential to their survival, causing famine, which is already affecting half a million Gazans. In this respect, Switzerland recalls that the use of starvation as a method of warfare is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law and may constitute a war crime.
In addition, all violations of international law committed in Israel and throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice before the relevant bodies. To this end, the International Criminal Court is currently conducting an investigation into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, covering both the events of 7 October and those currently taking place in Gaza and the West Bank.
The search for a two-state political solution, which this Council has been advocating for years, is imperative.
The conditions must be prepared to rebuild Gaza as an integral part of a future Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, in peace, within secure and recognised borders.