Statement by H.E. Ambassador YAMAZAKI Kazuyuki, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the United Nations Security Council Briefing, Agenda item “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”

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May 29, 2024

Thank you, Mr. President.

I thank Special Coordinator Mr. Wennesland for his informative briefing.

As we approach almost 8 months since the gruesome acts of terror by Hamas and others, we must uphold our strong condemnation of those actions while calling for the immediate return of all remaining hostages.

At the same time, we must recognize the ongoing horrors and hostilities in Gaza.

We are bearing witness to unimaginable suffering, catastrophic levels of civilian casualties and starvation and disease on the rise.

There is no safe place in the Gaza Strip, not even for aid workers, journalists, women or children.

Despite the strong calls from the international community for restraint, Israel has begun military operations in Rafah.

As humanitarian agencies had warned, the impact has already been devastating.

Around one million Palestinians have been forced to flee yet again, most to areas that are not fit for human habitation.

While we recognize the activation of the 2720 UN mechanism, the Rafah crossing is currently not functional, depriving civilians of the primary means of getting aid into Gaza.

Famine has already taken hold in the north, and the situation in the south is on the brink of collapse while the Rafah crossing stops functioning and the people are forced to re-displace.

Against this background, the International Court of Justice has issued another provisional measures last week that orders Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah, which may bring about physical destruction of Palestinians in Gaza.

Orders of provisional measures of the ICJ are legally binding on the parties to disputes, and to be observed in good faith.

Japan is deeply concerned for the critical humanitarian situation in Gaza as well as the Israel Defense Forces’ airstrike in Rafah and other military operations entailing a large number of civilian fatalities, including many women and children.

We cannot accept that so many innocent people, especially women and children, fall victim to the fighting.

As our Foreign Minister, Kamikawa Yoko, conveyed to Israel’s Foreign Minister earlier this week, Japan opposes a full-scale military operation in Rafah, and reiterates that humanitarian activities, including through the Rafah crossing, should not be impeded.

Mr. President,

Japan joins others in calling for an immediate ceasefire so that a conducive environment for unhindered humanitarian activities is ensured and the hostages are released, and sincerely hopes that this will lead to a sustainable ceasefire.

We strongly support the negotiations led by Egypt, Qatar and the US seeking a way out of this devastating crisis.

Beyond Gaza, Japan deplores the violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where over 480 Palestinians have been killed since October 7th.

We also unequivocally condemn the arson of UNRWA’s headquarters.

An environment in which international organizations can execute their missions safely and effectively is essential.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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