In a briefing to the Security Council, Tor Wennesland emphasised the urgent need for all sides to change course.

We must reach an agreement to release the hostages and put in place an immediate ceasefire. There is absolutely no time to lose,” he said, stressing that halting the fighting is essential for a comprehensive humanitarian response.

In parallel, efforts to prevent the deterioration of the situation must be linked to a long-term political strategy to ensure lasting success.

“We should be putting in place the framework for Gaza’s recovery and doing so in a way that tangibly moves us towards, rather than away from a long-term political resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Mr. Wennesland added.

No long-term Israeli military in Gaza

He reiterated key principles, including that there should be no long-term Israeli military presence in Gaza, while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns especially in the wake of the attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups on 7 October 2023.

He underscored that Gaza must remain part of a future Palestinian State without any territorial reductions and unified with the West Bank under a recognised Palestinian Government.

Dire situation, mounting tensions

The situation in Gaza remains dire, with over 36,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals killed since 7 October. The fate of 125 hostages held in Gaza remains elusive as an agreement on a ceasefire and hostage release remains blocked.

Nearly two million Palestinians within the Gaza Strip have been displaced from their homes, many multiple times, and around 100,000 Israelis from their communities in the country’s north and south.

Violence persists in the occupied West Bank, with large-scale Israeli operations and lethal exchanges with armed Palestinians, alongside increasing settler violence and attacks by Palestinians against Israelis.

Regional tensions are high, marked by exchanges between Israel and Hezbullah and other armed groups in Lebanon, aerial attacks, and Houthi attacks on international shipping, with recent escalations between Israel and Iran further heightening risks of broader conflict.

Imperilled relief efforts

Despite these challenges, humanitarian workers continue to deliver lifesaving aid under perilous conditions.

“Unsafe conditions resulting from a dangerously deficient humanitarian notification mechanism are compounded by overcrowding, desperation and a breakdown of law and order, imperilling humanitarian operations and costing the lives of humanitarian workers, including some 200 UN staff,” Mr. Wennesland said.

He recalled the opening of two crossings in northern Gaza and the entry of humanitarian goods from Ashdod and Jordan. However, he stressed that these measures are insufficient and called for the immediate re-opening of the Rafah crossing in the south and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout Gaza.

Make difficult political choices

In closing, the Special Coordinator emphasised that the political framework established now will significantly impact the future governance of Gaza and the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing war in Gaza, it is crucial to make “difficult political choices” now, he said, adding that failing to lay the foundations for a lasting resolution to the longstanding conflict and ending the occupation “will reverberate for generations”.

The drivers of the conflict must be addressed, including violence, settlement advancements and militant activity, and Israeli must cease measures that undermine the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Wennesland added.

Palestinians and Israelis desperately need a political horizon. Without it, there is no sustainable path out of the suffering and misery we are witnessing every day.”


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