UAE condemns 'inhumane' Israeli attacks and calls for end to Gaza siege

Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh urges international community to intervene to end cycle of violence

UAE condemns ‘disproportionate, cruel, and inhumane attacks’ by Israel on Gaza

UAE condemns ‘disproportionate, cruel, and inhumane attacks’ by Israel on Gaza
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

The UAE’s ambassador to the UN has condemned Israel's "disproportionate, cruel and inhumane attacks" and issued an impassioned plea for an end to its siege on Gaza.

Lana Nusseibeh told a UN Security Council meeting that, while Israel may claim to be at war with Hamas, it is innocent civilians who are "paying the price".

She called for a moment of silence for all lives lost during the Israel-Gaza conflict, which is now in its fifth week.

More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since fighting broke out, while the death toll in Israel stands at 1,200, down from the initial estimate of 1,400.

Indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian objects are prohibited by the laws of war; this simply cannot be part of any military strategy, defensive or otherwise
Lana Nusseibeh

Ms Nusseibeh said the stark reality of Israeli strikes on schools and hospitals was that "babies, children and the elderly" were under attack.

"As we called for this meeting yesterday, little did we know that by the evening, a terrifying barrage of targeted attacks would be launched on schools and hospitals," said the UN envoy on Friday.

"Here’s what that actually means. Babies, children and the elderly, who are seeking refuge and care in those facilities ‒ are also under attack.

"There are over 110,000 patients, including children, suffering from burns to their faces so severe that they are suffocating – with no access to antibiotics or burn cream.

"Women are giving birth in the most unsanitary conditions known to mankind, without medicines, and C-sections are being performed without anaesthesia."

Tragic stories of war

The ambassador said it was crucial to reflect on the human tragedies of conflicts often told in death tolls and numbers of wounded and displaced.

"It sometimes feels that by only dealing with the numbers from the conflict, we are indeed denying the humanity of those suffering," she said.

Ms Nusseibeh recounted the suffering and hardships of some of those caught up in the conflict.

"While it is impossible for us to go through the thousands of stories in today’s meeting, I want to put a couple of faces to those numbers ‒ not of Hamas fighters. Normal people.

"And Israel may be at war with Hamas, but those paying the price of this war are civilians in the thousands.'

She told of the ordeal of Alaa Zaheer Ahmed, a third year medical student who was designing a poster for breast cancer awareness "when the windows started shaking and everything turned black".

"An Israeli air strike levelled her home, pinning her legs under the wreckage and leaving barely enough oxygen to breathe,' Ms Nusseibeh said.

"Hours later, Alaa’s relatives and rescue workers pulled her from the rubble, they also recovered the lifeless bodies of her mother, her brother and her nephew. There are so many stories like this one."

She shared the story of Talia, born in Al Shifa hospital on October 6 - one day before war erupted - whose "fragile heartbeat depends on a mechanical ventilator, straining generators and dwindling fuel supply".

"With the strike on the hospital last night [Thursday], and reports of the desperate evacuations on foot as we speak here today in this Council, I can’t even begin to imagine what has happened to Talia – but we must not turn away from these stories."

Hailing healthcare heroes

Ms Nusseibeh paid tribute to the medical staff in Gaza, who she said have stayed behind to deliver life-saving care in "horrific circumstances".

"Medical staff tell us that they are in fear for their lives and the lives of their patients being taken, and they do not know if they will make it until the morning," the ambassador said.

She added that, while the UAE was striving to deliver support by establishing a field hospital in Gaza, it could serve only as a "plaster on a fracture".

She stressed the need to not forget those held hostage by Hamas and called for their immediate release.

"Indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian objects are prohibited by the laws of war; this simply cannot be part of any military strategy, defensive or otherwise," she said.

"Israel must end its siege on Gaza and reinstate essential services and items indispensable to human survival, including fuel, electricity and water."

Ms Nusseibeh said it was time for the international community to act, with a two-state solution the ultimate goal.

"It is unconscionable that it has been 33 days of the destruction of Gaza, without any Council action and response. It is time to act and to respond and help save innocent lives," she said.

"And to ensure this violence ends once and for all, the two-state solution must be the overarching goal. The international community must reiterate its unwavering support for this goal.

"This is the only solution that takes us out of this cycle of hatred and violence and dehumanisation again and again and again."

Updated: November 12, 2023, 4:34 PM