Statement on the situation in Gaza

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Thank you very much, Mr. President. I would also like to thank Senior Coordinator Kaag for her briefing today.

Mr. President,

We are deeply disturbed by the findings of the IPC report issued last week and mentioned few times today already. It emphasizes that nearly the entire population of Gaza, around 96 %, is facing acute food shortages. A high risk of famine persists across the Strip.

In spite of four resolutions, in spite of the ICJ order, in spite of this mechanism, in spite of all briefings and commitments, the humanitarian situation is not getting better.

The needs are on the rise and the humanitarian operational environment is collapsing. Diseases are spreading. Public order has crumbled. Criminal gangs are taking over. The social fabric is disintegrating. We have no right to be surprised. 

Starvation and famine in Gaza is manmade, we agree here with Algeria. It is a choice.

A choice by Hamas who is willingly sacrifying its people rather than agreeing to a ceasefire as defined by our resolution.

A choice by Israel not to fulfil its prime duty as the Occupying Power. Israel is obliged to ensure food and medical supplies for the population it occupies, not just allow the passage of aid. Why Israel is not complying with the Geneva Conventions, with the Council’s resolutions nor with the ICJ’s order we fail to comprehend.

We underline that using starvation as a method of warfare is prohibited under international law and can amount to a war crime.

We have heard from Israel that there is no limit to aid reaching Gaza. We find it hard to believe. Verified and trust-worthy reports about hunger and the dire needs of Gaza’s civilian population have been reaching us for months. If there is no limit to the aid reaching Gaza, why do 50.000 children require treatment for acute malnutrition?

Mr. President,

We condemn the continuation of attacks on humanitarian workers and UN and humanitarian premises and convoys, including UNRWA, ICRC and others. Some have halted their operations out of concern for the lives of their staff.

Over 270 humanitarian workers have been killed in Gaza. Others are facing a multitude of operational challenges and obstacles. We repeat our call for the implementation of all measures to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian workers. This includes a fully functioning deconfliction mechanism, as well as delivering on other commitments made, such as tactical pauses.

We also repeat our call for the immediate release of all hostages and for granting unrestricted ICRC access to them. Holding them in Hamas tunnels for the past 9 months is simply inhumane.

We commend sustained efforts by Jordan and Egypt, and other countries to deescalate the crisis and for convening humanitarian conference in Amman on 11 June.

Ms. Kaag,

We highly appreciate your efforts and the efforts of your team. We value your high-level contacts and advocacy work to keep the world’s attention on this humanitarian crisis. We believe the start of the work of the mechanism can provide us, humanitarian organizations and donors, an overview and analysis of the aid reaching and being distributed in Gaza. Yet the main goal of accelerating the safe delivery of aid to every corner of Gaza is not in sight. We are missing the main ingredient for the mechanism’s success – which is a ceasefire.

Mr. President,

The end of bombing and ceasefire will not magically solve problems for civilians in Gaza. It will be only the beginning of the end of their suffering. It will not automatically lead to sustained and unhindered humanitarian access and neither reduce the risk of famine. It will not automatically restore public order and neither open doors to reconstruction. It will not automatically enable a political process leading to the two-state solution and neither ensure that a human tragedy of epic proportions as described by my neighbor from Sierra Leone  happens “never again”.

Dear colleagues,

We agree with France that it is time, that it is urgent for the Security Council to start reflecting on Gaza beyond a ceasefire. Even if today this seems so far away.

Thank you.

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