UAE's envoy to the UN says priority is saving lives in Israel-Gaza war

Lana Nusseibeh addresses 'very grave violations against children' in Gaza and calls for rules of war to be upheld

Palestinian children run from Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP
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The UAE’s ambassador to the UN on Monday urged all parties involved in the Israel-Gaza conflict to fully comply within their obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure the safety of civilians.

“Killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals in the Gaza Strip, and denying children access to humanitarian assistance are all very grave violations against children,” Lana Nusseibeh told reporters.

Speaking after a closed UN Security Council meeting, the UAE ambassador said that wars have rules and “they must be upheld”, emphasising the pressing humanitarian needs in Gaza.

Although all 15 Security Council members recognise the "urgent humanitarian need" in Gaza, Ms Nusseibeh said "the gaps remain on what is achievable on the ground."

"Without a cessation of hostilities, or some kind of humanitarian truce that is immediately implemented... far too many more will continue to lose their lives," she said, adding that the Security Council "feels enormous pressure to reach agreement" on how to help address dire conditions in the Palestinian enclave.

China and the UAE called for the meeting on Saturday to discuss the worsening situation in Gaza and Israel’s recent air strikes on the Jabalia refugee camp and on a convoy of ambulances near Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

This marked the sixth council meeting addressing the Israel-Gaza crisis since the October 7 attacks in Israel, carried out by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. About 1,400 people in Israel were killed.

“The Security Council is being looked to operationalise our impact on the ground and to save lives," Ms Nusseibeh said. "So today, the priority is saving lives."

The health ministry in the Hamas-controlled enclave said at least 10,022 Palestinians have been killed from Israeli strikes, including 4,104 children.

Ms Nusseibeh said the commitment to saving lives is the driving force behind council members convening regularly and striving to reach consensus on the next steps forward.

France’s ambassador Nicolas de Riviere echoed the UAE's ambassador calls and underscored the necessity of providing UN agencies with access.

“The humanitarian effort which is taking place now is insufficient,” Mr de Riviere said.

The UN Security Council, which has yet to pass any resolution on the conflict, has still not reached consensus on whether to call any interruption in fighting a "ceasefire" or "humanitarian truce".

The US and the UK are calling for “humanitarian pauses” while other council members are demanding a “humanitarian ceasefire” to deliver much needed aid to the northern enclave.

"We talked about humanitarian pauses and we're interested in pursuing language on that score," US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters.

"But there are disagreements within the Council about whether that's acceptable."

Updated: November 07, 2023, 11:53 AM