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

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We must see humanitarian pauses that allow enough time for aid into Gaza

10 November 2023

I thank the UAE and China for organising this session and our moment of silence earlier. I’d also like to thank Dr Tedros and Dr Jilani, not just for your briefings, but for the life saving work that you and your teams are doing.

Colleagues, we are in no doubt: there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And as Dr Tedros set out, that humanitarian crisis is deteriorating day by day. Of course, we welcome the opening of the Rafah border, and we thank partners for their work in allowing foreign nationals to leave. But it is essential and urgent that more aid flows in the other direction into Gaza.

Access both through Rafah and other crossing points needs to improve so that aid can reach the people who so desperately need it. For this to happen, we must see humanitarian pauses that allow enough time for aid to be delivered to those who need it and for hostages to be released. Fuel must be allowed to enter Gaza so that hospitals and water desalination plants can operate and for aid to be delivered. The pauses in northern Gaza are a first step but any pauses in hostilities should allow sufficient time and security both for civilians to move and for humanitarian aid to be delivered.

Since the 7th of October, the UK has been firm in its support for Israel’s right to self-defence following Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel. In this context, international humanitarian law is not a nice to have. International humanitarian law is what keeps humanitarian workers and medical staff safe to assist those in need and protects civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, wherever possible. So we urge all parties to the conflict to take all possible steps to minimise harm to civilians, health and humanitarian workers and to protect its sites. And we express our condolences for each life lost.

Finally, Mr President, we have been clear that Israel must do more to prevent escalation in the West Bank. We welcome statements, including that made by Prime Minister Netanyahu, condemning settler violence. But we must see tangible action to bring perpetrators to justice. We also condemn attacks against Israel emanating from armed groups in the region. The UK Foreign Secretary was in Riyadh yesterday where he discussed preventing regional escalation with the foreign ministers and representatives of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the Palestinian Authority. The Foreign Secretary also reaffirmed the UK’s unwavering commitment to a two-state solution.

Thank you, President.

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