"This body has failed to effectively address this conflict. We have watched members of this council deliberate and delay while civilians die."
The head of a leading international humanitarian group on Thursday implored the United Nations Security Council to work out an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, where more than 100,000 Palestinians have been killed or maimed by Israeli bombs and bullets, around 90% of the strip's 2.3 million people are forcibly displaced, and famine is a growing reality.
"Meeting after meeting, resolution after resolution, this body has failed to effectively address this conflict," Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) secretary general Christopher Lockyear told the Security Council in New York City. "We have watched members of this council deliberate and delay while civilians die."
"Every day, we witness unimaginable horror."
"This death, destruction, and forced displacement are the result of military and political choices that blatantly disregard civilian lives," he said. "These choices could have been—and still can be—made very differently."
Lockyear's remarks came just two days after the United States vetoed a Security Council cease-fire resolution for the third time since Israeli forces began bombarding Gaza following the October 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel.
"We are appalled by the willingness of the United States to use its powers as a permanent council member to obstruct efforts to adopt the most evident of resolutions: one demanding an immediate and sustained cease-fire," Lockyear said.
In addition to diplomatic support that includes testifying against South Africa-led allegations of Israeli genocide at the International Court of Justice, the Biden administration is leading an effort to send more than $14 billion in additional military aid to Israel atop the nearly $4 billion it already receives each year from Washington.
Biden has also twice bypassed Congress to fast-track armed aid to Israel, even as reports emerge of war crimes including the torture, rape, and execution of men, women, children, and elders. Many of the victims are medical professionals.
"Every day, we witness unimaginable horror," Lockyear told the council. "As I speak, more than 1.5 million people are trapped in Rafah. We live in fear of a ground invasion."
"Our fears are rooted in experience," he said. "Just 48 hours ago, as a family sat around their kitchen table in a house sheltering MSF staff and their families in Khan Younis, a 120mm tank shell exploded through the walls, igniting a fire, and killing two people and severely burning six others. Five of the six injured are women and children."
"We took every precaution to protect the 64 humanitarian staff and family members from such an attack by notifying warring parties of the location and clearly marking the building with an MSF flag," Lockyear noted. "Despite our precautions, our building was struck not only by a tank shell but by intense gunfire. Some were trapped in the burning building while active shooting delayed ambulances from reaching them. This morning I am looking at photos that show the catastrophic extent of the damage and I am watching videos of rescue teams removing the charred bodies from the rubble."
"This is all too familiar—Israeli forces have attacked our convoys, detained our staff, and bulldozed our vehicles, hospitals have been bombed and raided," he said. "Now, for a second time, one of our staff shelters has been hit. This pattern of attacks is either intentional or indicative of reckless incompetence. Our colleagues in Gaza are fearful that, as I speak to you today, they will be punished tomorrow."
For 138 days, we have witnessed the unimaginable suffering of the people of Gaza.
For 138 days, we have done everything we can to enact a meaningful humanitarian response.
For 138 days, we have watched the systematic obliteration of a health system we have supported for decades. We have watched our patients and colleagues be killed and maimed.
This situation is the culmination of a war Israel is waging on the entire population of the Gaza Strip—a war of collective punishment.
A war without rules.
A war at all costs.
"The consequences of casting international humanitarian law to the wind will reverberate well beyond Gaza," said Lockyear. "It will be an enduring burden on our collective conscience. This is not just political inaction—it has become political complicity."
Lockyear then took aim at the recent U.S. calls for a "temporary cease-fire" to be implemented "as soon as practicable."
"A new draft resolution by the United States ostensibly calls for a cease-fire," he said. "However, this is misleading at best. This council should reject any resolution that further hampers humanitarian efforts on the ground and leads this Council to tacitly endorse the continued violence and mass atrocities in Gaza."
"The people of Gaza need a cease-fire not when 'practicable,' but now," Lockyear stressed. "They need a sustained cease-fire, not a 'temporary period of calm.' Anything short of this is gross negligence."