Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on Gaza

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It is right the Security Council calls for a humanitarian pause in Gaza long enough to deliver aid

15 November 2023

Thank you, President. President, it is impossible to comprehend the pain and the loss that Palestinian civilians are enduring. Too many civilians, including most tragically children, are losing their lives.

So it is right that the Security Council calls for a humanitarian pause for a period of days, long enough to get lifesaving aid to those who need it. And to establish a safer environment for humanitarians. This will save lives.

We need a collective effort to get aid in as fast as possible by as many routes as possible. The UK Prime Minister has been very clear about the need for lifesaving aid to reach civilians in Gaza, including food, water, medical supplies and fuel as a priority.

For our part, the UK has doubled our aid to help civilians in Gaza. Three British RAF flights have delivered lifesaving humanitarian aid and enabling equipment to support the Egyptian Red Crescent Society in delivering international aid through the Rafah checkpoint. We are urging, and I urge here today, that the priority must be improved land access, including at Kerem Shalom, so aid can get in at scale.

All parties must give civilians the protection that is their right under international law, including international humanitarian law. That includes respecting the sanctity and protection of hospitals.

It is also right that this resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli hostages. It is unconscionable that Hamas continues to hold men, women and children, causing terrible fear and suffering for their families.

President, this resolution is absolutely necessary, though the UK regrets that the first resolution passed by the Council on this matter could not clearly condemn Hamas’ terrorist attacks of 7 October.

The barbarity of those attacks should be clear to us all. That is why we have abstained today. But let me be absolutely clear, it was vital and overdue for the Council to speak on this crisis and we strongly support the resolution’s purpose: to get aid in, and hostages out.

I therefore commend Malta’s outstanding work in bringing this resolution that could pass. We will continue to work with Council members to resolve this crisis and to create a new political horizon so that we can deliver on the promise of peace for Israelis and Palestinians, and make the two-state solution a reality.

I thank you President.

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