I would like to thank the PGA for convening this meeting.
Italy welcomes the fact that the Security Council was able to adopt Resolution 2720 on 22 December 2023 on aid-scale up and monitoring in Gaza. We take this opportunity to call on the international community to support these efforts. We welcome Israel’s decision to open the Kerem Shalom border crossing point, which is a good first step and hope more will be done to provide humanitarian assistance to all those in need in Gaza, ensuring that such assistance is not abused by Hamas and other terrorist organisations. In this regard, we welcome the appointment of Ms Sigrid Kaag as the Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza and we stand ready to support her work.
Italy is gravely concerned about the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and latest reports by UN agencies. Protection of civilians and unhindered humanitarian access must be ensured by all parties at all times in all conflicts. We commend the strong efforts of the UN and all humanitarian actors to deliver lifesaving aid in dire conditions and deplore the deaths of a record number of UN staff members and other humanitarian workers, as well as journalists.
Rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access is an obligation under international law for the parties and is needed to deliver life-saving aid to avoid a further worsening of an already catastrophic situation. We welcome the cooperation of regional actors aimed at opening humanitarian access to Gaza.
In addition to the efforts being coordinated by the European Union, on a bilateral level Italy has provided 16 tons of humanitarian supplies and deployed “Vulcano”, a military ship with surgical emergency capabilities, to El-Arish, Egypt, to help treat wounded Palestinian minors and women in the care of Egyptian hospitals. Furthermore, Italy has allocated additional funds for an amount of 10 million euros to UN Agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
Italy’s position on today’s conflict is well-known. We condemn in the strongest possible terms Hamas’ brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks across Israel on 7 October 2023. The use of civilians as human shields by Hamas is a particularly deplorable atrocity. We call on Hamas to immediately cease the continued missile attacks on Israel and to release all hostages without any precondition. The ICRC must be granted access to the hostages.
We strongly emphasise Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law including international humanitarian and human rights law. Military operations must be proportionate and in line with humanitarian law.
It is also crucial to prevent regional escalation including a deterioration of the situation in the West Bank. In this respect, Italy recalls the EU position on settlements, and calls on Israel to prevent settler violence and ensure the perpetrators are held accountable.
Italy is actively discussing with partners and key stakeholders, and we call on regional actors to refrain from any action that can further aggravate the situation. We underline the need to engage broadly with the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli authorities, as well as regional and international partners who could have a positive role to play in preventing further escalation.
We remain committed to a lasting and sustainable peace based on the implementation of the two-state solution and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, through reinvigorated efforts in the Middle East Peace Process.