Situation in the Middle East

In view of the volatile situation in the Middle East, Switzerland must be able to act swiftly and in a coordinated fashion. At its meeting of 11 October 2023, the Federal Council decided to set up a task force to monitor the situation as closely as possible and take whatever decisions are necessary.

Map showing the Middle East.

Middle East: Switzerland condemns Hamas terrorist acts and calls for improvement of humanitarian situation. Switzerland calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and to protect civilians. © FDFA

For further assistance and in case of emergency, affected Swiss nationals can contact the Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv or the FDFA helpline in Bern (24 hours a day on +41 800 24 7 365 / 0 800 24 7 365 or by e-mail to helpline@eda.admin.ch).

Position of the Federal Council on the conflict in the Middle East

The Federal Council condemns "the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas since 7 October in the strongest possible terms and calls for the immediate release of all hostages". It recognises "Israel's right to ensure its defence and security, and stresses that international humanitarian law must be respected by all parties". International humanitarian law takes into account legitimate needs of a state such as security and military necessity, but it must be respected by all parties without exception. Violations of international humanitarian law and human rights must be investigated and perpetrators held accountable.

"The humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict in the Middle East are dire in Israel, in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the neighbouring countries affected”, the Federal Council states. Thousands of civilians have lost their lives since 7 October 2023. In light of this, it is central that all parties fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law and allow swift, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza. "Humanitarian pauses or truces are necessary to guarantee access to aid and meet the needs of the population”, stresses the Federal Council.

According to the Federal Council's MENA Strategy 2021-2024, a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means. This is based on a two-state solution negotiated by both sides: two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and within secure and recognised borders.

02.07.2024 – 17.30

UN Security Council: The humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating rapidly

The dramatic humanitarian situation in Gaza was the focus of a briefing to the UN Security Council today by Under-Secretary-General Sigrid Kaag, who was appointed UN Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza by the Council last December.

Switzerland expressed its deep concern about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, which continues to cause numerous civilian casualties, and about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. According to the latest independent figures, 95 per cent of the population in the Gaza Strip is facing acute food insecurity. The risk of famine will remain as long as the conflict continues and humanitarian aid is obstructed.

The obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law must be strictly respected by all parties. These oblige the parties to allow humanitarian access to civilians in need and prohibit the use of starvation as a method of war. The civilian population must have access to essential goods and services such as clean water, food and electricity. The aid arriving in Gaza is far from sufficient given the immense needs. “This must change urgently," emphasised Switzerland in its statement to the Security Council. It appealed for sufficient aid to reach those in need and called on the parties to the conflict in particular to act accordingly.

In New York, Switzerland reiterated the urgency of an immediate ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. It also emphasised the need to restore a political horizon. Switzerland reiterated its full support for the two-state solution, which is the only basis that can offer the people in the region a life in peace, security and dignity.

Statement by Switzerland on the humanitarian situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 02.07.2024

26.06.2024 – CHF 10 million to be disbursed to UNRWA following consultation with the Foreign Affairs Committees

At its meeting on June 26, 2024, the Federal Council was informed of the outcome of the consultation of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the National Council and the Council of States (FAC) regarding the disbursement of Switzerland's contribution to UNRWA. Both committees approved the Federal Council's decision of May 8, 2024 to disburse CHF 10 million to the UN relief organization. This contribution will therefore be transferred to UNRWA in the coming weeks. This contribution supplements the aid payments of CHF 56.2 million approved by the Federal Council on April 24, 2024 for the humanitarian needs of countries in the Middle East.

UNRWA's use of the CHF 10 million is strictly limited to urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza and will be used exclusively to fund the UN agency's humanitarian assistance program. Shelter, food, drinking water and emergency medical care will be provided. However, the decision also means that Swiss funds may not be used to cover UNRWA's general operating and administrative costs.

In light of the escalation of violence in the Middle East since October 7, Parliament decided in December 2023 that humanitarian disbursements for the Middle East can only be made in tranches and only after consultation with the two APKs.

The Federal Council consulted its decision of 8 May with the two APCs. On June 13, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council followed (de) the Federal Council's decision. On June 21, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Council of States (de) also approved the payment. The FAC's decision was driven by the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and the view that UNRWA is the only organization with the logistical capacity to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population in Gaza. It is by far the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza. It provides basic supplies, shelter and assistance to more than two million people. In the current situation, it would be difficult for any other organization or agency to fully assume its responsibilities.

25.06.2024 – 17.00

Switzerland calls for implementation of Security Council resolutions

Today, the UN Security Council once again addressed the situation in the Middle East. In its statement, Switzerland emphasised that compliance with international law and the implementation of Security Council resolutions is urgent.

Resolution 2334, which the Council adopted in December 2016, reaffirms that Israel's settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory constitute a violation of international law and an obstacle to the realisation of the two-state solution. In New York, Switzerland criticised the fact that attacks, threats and intimidation by Israeli settlers against the Palestinian population in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continue with minimal impunity. It condemns these attacks, calls for an immediate cessation and recalls Israel's obligations under international law as an occupying power, including the obligation to protect the civilian population.

At today's meeting, Switzerland stated that humanitarian personnel, infrastructure and goods must be respected and protected, including the premises of UNRWA and the ICRC. With the adoption of the resolution on the protection of humanitarian personnel, which Switzerland submitted to the Security Council to vote on 24 May 2024, the Council reaffirmed the responsibility of states and parties to conflict to respect and protect the civilian population, including humanitarian personnel, in all conflicts worldwide.

Two weeks ago, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2735, which calls on all parties to immediately and unconditionally implement the three-phase plan presented by the US government, which is intended to lead to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. When the resolution was adopted on 10 June, Switzerland stressed that this plan currently represents the best chance for a way out of the conflict, which has claimed tens of thousands of victims since the terrorist attacks by Hamas on 7 October last year, which Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms.

Accordingly, Switzerland reiterated its call for an immediate ceasefire, the rapid and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

It also reiterated the importance of the two-state solution, which is the only basis for peace and stability in the region.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council. 25.06.2024

10.06.2024 – 22.00

UN Security Council calls for the implementation of US President Biden's three-phase plan

With the adoption of the resolution penned by the US, the UN Security Council calls on Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement on the three-phase plan presented by US President Joe Biden and to implement it fully, immediately and unconditionally. The resolution sets out the phases of the plan as follows:

  • Phase 1: an immediate, full, and complete ceasefire with the release of hostages including women, the elderly and the wounded, the return of the remains of some hostages who have been killed, the exchange of Palestinian prisoners, withdrawal of Israeli forces from the populated areas in Gaza, the return of Palestinian civilians to their homes and neighborhoods in all areas of Gaza, including in the north, as well as the safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance at scale throughout the Gaza Strip to all Palestinian civilians who need it, including housing units delivered by the international community;
  • Phase 2: upon agreement of the parties, a permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza; and
  • Phase 3: the start of a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families.
The UN Security Council votes.
The UN Security Council calls for the implementation of US President Biden's three-phase plan. © FDFA

On this basis, the parties to the conflict, with the support of UN member states, should achieve a lasting end to hostilities. The adopted resolution once again underlines the Council's commitment to the two-state solution, in which Israel and Palestine exist side by side within secure and recognised borders. In this context, the resolution also emphasises the importance of the unification of the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the administration of the Palestinian Authority.

Switzerland supported the resolution in the Security Council. After eight months of war since the terrorist attacks by Hamas on 7 October - which Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms - the restoration of a political horizon in the Middle East is urgent. In its statement after the vote, Switzerland emphasised that the plan presented by the USA is currently the option with the best chance of finding a way out of the violence in the Middle East. Switzerland therefore expects Hamas and Israel to reach an immediate and unconditional agreement and implement the plan. It also underlined that the parties must fully comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, as required by the UN Security Council resolutions adopted since 7 October.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 10.06.2024

01.06.2024 – 15.00

US three-phase plan for lasting peace in the Middle East

Switzerland supports US President Joe Biden's three-phase plan, which provides for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages in Gaza and access for humanitarian aid. This should pave the way for a permanent end to hostilities.

There is an urgent need to re-establish a political horizon based on the two-state solution.

29.05.2024 – 16.00

UN Security Council: Switzerland condemns rocket fire on Israel and attacks on Rafah

The UN Security Council today once again discussed the situation in the Middle East. Switzerland is extremely concerned about the spiral of violence which reached a new level last weekend.

Switzerland strongly condemns the Israeli attack on a camp for displaced persons in Rafah on 26 May. According to the UN, this attack resulted in dozens of civilian casualties. The population of Gaza is in dire need of protection, having already been displaced, facing the threat of famine and continuing to suffer from the hostilities. Switzerland also strongly condemns the continued and indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel, as was the case on 26 May. Such attacks are a violation of international humanitarian law. It has underlined this in the Security Council.

In this context, Switzerland recalled in New York that all parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. They must observe the principle of distinction without exception and take precautionary measures to protect the civilian population and prevent damage to civilian objects. Switzerland reiterated to the Council its call for an immediate ceasefire, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and the immediate and unconditional release of hostages.

Switzerland also addressed the Security Council on the situation in the West Bank. It condemned the violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers, including repeated attacks on UN facilities in East Jerusalem and on humanitarian aid convoys.

Respect for international humanitarian law by all parties, as well as the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and the preventive measures of the International Court of Justice, are prerequisites for de-escalation. Switzerland remains firmly convinced that only a negotiated two-state solution, in which Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, is the basis for lasting peace in the Middle East.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 29.05.2024

20.05.2024 – 23.20

Middle East: Switzerland calls for immediate ceasefire and implementation of UN Security Council resolutions

The UN Security Council today addressed the humanitarian situation and the plight of civilians in the Middle East. Scores of civilians continue to be killed and injured in the Gaza Strip as a result of the ongoing hostilities. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Against this background, Switzerland has called in the Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the ongoing military operation in Rafah. The consequences of this operation for the civilian population in Rafah, which has been suffering from bombardments, repeated displacement and hunger for more than seven months, are unacceptable. What the population needs today is support, not more suffering," emphasized Switzerland's UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in New York.

In its statement, Switzerland referred to the numerous resolutions adopted by the Security Council to condemn and stop attacks on civilians, hostage-taking and acts of terrorism. The terrorist acts by Hamas and the hostage-taking of October 7, which Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms, violate all these resolutions. Switzerland continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

In the Council, Switzerland welcomed the fact that the possibility of delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip by sea has been created. At the same time, it pointed out that the humanitarian aid currently reaching Gaza was far from sufficient. It called on all parties to fulfil their obligations to ensure humanitarian access throughout the Gaza Strip. It is also essential that the parties ensure the protection of humanitarian personnel so that they can fully carry out their tasks.

In view of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the Middle East, Switzerland called for the immediate implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions. These resolutions are binding under international law and oblige all parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights. Switzerland also reiterated its support for a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders. Such a solution is the only way to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 20.05.2024

10.05.2024 – 17.00

UN General Assembly: Vote on upgrading the status of Palestine in the UN

On May 10, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution upgrading Palestine's observer state status and recommending that the UN Security Council give renewed favorable consideration to Palestine's application for full UN membership. Palestine has had observer state status at the UN since 2012. Today's decision by the General Assembly gives Palestine additional rights as an observer state. Among other things, Palestine will be able to speak on behalf of groups of states in the UN General Assembly and will be given the same speaking order in debates as full UN members. Today's decision cannot be equated with full UN membership. Palestine still does not have a vote in the UN.

Switzerland has abstained from voting today, in line with its voting behaviour on 18 April 2024 in the UN Security Council on Palestine's full UN membership. Full membership must be recommended by the UN Security Council. This was prevented for Palestine on 18 April by a US veto in the Security Council.

At the time, the Federal Council was of the opinion that, in view of the great instability and insecurity in the region, this step would not be conducive to easing the situation on the ground in terms of peace policy. Without opposing it, Switzerland still considers it preferable to consider a change in the status of Palestine in the UN at a time when this would be consistent with the logic of an emerging peace.

Switzerland's abstention today at the UN General Assembly is based on the assessment that the resolution adopted today contains too many elements that prejudge the outcome of a possible review of Palestine's full membership by the UN Security Council. According to the UN Charter, a recommendation by the Security Council to admit a state as a full member of the UN is a prerequisite for a decision by the UN General Assembly.

Switzerland's abstention does not alter its firm support for a two-state solution. It is convinced that only a negotiated solution in which two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and security can lead to lasting peace in the Middle East. Furthermore, Switzerland continues to call for an immediate ceasefire, safe and unhindered access for emergency aid to Gaza, respect for international humanitarian law and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN General Assembly, 10.05.2024

08.05.2024 – 11.30

The Federal Council intends to release CHF 10 million for emergency aid in Gaza

At its meeting on 8 May 2024, the Federal Council decided to make a contribution of CHF 10 million to the humanitarian aid appeal of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The CHF 10 million contribution is exclusively earmarked for Gaza and will be used to provide the urgent assistance specified in the UNRWA Flash Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory covering the period April–December 2024. In its overall assessment, the Federal Council drew on the analysis of the Colonna report and coordination with other donors. The Federal Council will submit this decision to the foreign affairs committees of the National Council and Council of States for consultation. 

In Gaza, 2.3 million people, including 1.7 million internally displaced persons, are dependent on emergency aid. The United Nations is warning of an imminent famine. In its latest emergency aid appeal for Gaza, published on 24 April 2024, UNRWA is seeking around CHF 1 billion. The Federal Council is fully aware of the critical nature of this situation and recognises the urgent need for action. Switzerland's CHF 10 million contribution to UNRWA will be restricted to Gaza and will cover the most pressing basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, basic healthcare and logistics.

A Palestinian girl carries two water containers in a tent camp for internally displaced persons in Gaza.
In Gaza, 2.3 million people are dependent on emergency aid. The Federal Council intends to release CHF 10 million for the urgent humanitarian needs of these people. © Keystone

As decided by Parliament in December 2023, this contribution will be submitted to the foreign affairs committees for consultation. This comes on top of the CHF 56.2 million package to address the humanitarian needs of Middle Eastern countries which the Federal Council approved on 24 April 2024 and has already submitted to the foreign affairs committees. Future financial support for the Middle East will be decided in the second half of 2024.

The decision of the Federal Council also takes into account the conclusions of the report by the independent review group led by former French Minister for Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna. This report, mandated by the UN Secretary-General and published on 22 April 2024, aimed to examine the neutrality of UNRWA. The report notes that UNRWA has a robust monitoring system in place. However, it also makes 50 recommendations to further enhance the organisation's neutrality, particularly in how it communicates, develops educational materials and uses its infrastructure. 

In January 2024, several donor states suspended their contributions to UNRWA following allegations against the organisation. Many donors have since restored funding. 

The Federal Council reiterates its call for a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered access for emergency aid to Gaza, compliance with international humanitarian law, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

23.04.2024 – 17.00

Exchange between Federal Councillor Cassis and Qatari State Minister Al-Khulaifi on the situation in the Middle East

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis today received the Minister of State of Qatar, Dr Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, for a bilateral meeting in Bern. The talks focussed on the concerns of both states regarding the situation in the Middle East.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis meets Qatar's Minister of State Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi for bilateral talks in Bern.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis meets the Qatari Minister of State Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi for bilateral talks in Bern. © FDFA

Against this background, Mr Cassis and Mr Al-Khulaifi spoke about their joint efforts to prevent a major regional escalation of the conflict, to advance peace in the Middle East and to support the two-state solution. Switzerland values Qatar's role in negotiating a ceasefire in Gaza and facilitating the release of all remaining hostages.

18.04.2024 – 23.00

Palestine's application for full membership of the United Nations

Palestine's application for full UN membership will not be submitted to the UN General Assembly due to the veto by the United States on 18 April in the UN Security Council. Switzerland abstained from the vote. After assessing the situation and consulting with the chairs of the parliamentary foreign affairs committees, the Federal Council concluded that granting Palestine full UN membership at this time would not be conducive to easing the situation and peace efforts in the Middle East. Switzerland remains committed to the two-state solution.

Palestine has had observer state status at the United Nations since 2012. It reactivated its previously inconclusive 2011 application for full UN membership on 2 April 2024. Full UN membership is decided by the UN General Assembly in accordance with the UN Charter. The UN Security Council must make a positive recommendation for admission before the General Assembly can vote on a membership application. Since the United States vetoed the recommendation for Palestine's membership, the application will not proceed to a vote in the General Assembly.

In view of the current highly unstable situation in the Middle East and from an overall peace policy perspective, Switzerland believes that admitting Palestine as a full UN member is not advisable at this time. The Federal Council therefore decided that Switzerland would abstain from the vote on the Palestinian application in the UN Security Council. Before making this decision, the Federal Council conducted a thorough assessment of the overall geopolitical situation and consulted with the chairs of the foreign affairs committees of both the National Council and the Council of States, as required by Article 152 paragraph 4 of the Parliament Act. Switzerland considers that it would be better to proceed with Palestine's accession to the United Nations as a full member at a time when such a step would fit in with the logic of an emerging peace.

Switzerland remains committed to the two-state solution. The Federal Council, as outlined in the MENA Strategy 2021–24, firmly believes that lasting peace in the Middle East can only be achieved through a negotiated two-state solution that adheres to international law and internationally agreed parameters.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 18.04.2024

Press release: Palestine's application for full membership of the United Nations, 18.04.2024

News platform: What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

18.04.2024 – 17.00

Two-state solution is the basis for lasting peace

The UN Security Council held a ministerial debate on the current situation in the Middle East. In view of recent developments and the escalating spiral of violence, Switzerland emphasized in its statement the urgent need for de-escalation and respect for international law. "Respect for the UN Charter, international humanitarian law and human rights must be a guiding principle for all parties to the conflict," Switzerland's UN Ambassador told the Security Council.

Since the terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7, which Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms, the Security Council has adopted three resolutions that have not been implemented. In New York today, Switzerland called for their immediate implementation. "The ceasefire called for in the resolution of March 25 has not been respected, not all hostages have been released and numerous civilians are becoming victims of the hostilities every day," recalled the Swiss ambassador to the UN.

The already dramatic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating rapidly and famine is imminent. Humanitarian aid must be channeled unhindered through all possible border crossings and distributed throughout the Gaza Strip, including the north. Switzerland also reiterated its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages.

At the same time, it is important not to lose sight of the situation in the West Bank. Violence there has reached record levels, including settler violence, which Switzerland condemns.

In New York, Switzerland called on all parties for strict compliance with international humanitarian law. It remains convinced that the basis for lasting peace in the Middle East is a two-state solution. Only this solution, negotiated by both sides in accordance with international law, can lead to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "Switzerland is ready to contribute constructively to such a solution," emphasized the Swiss ambassador in New York.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 18.04.2024

05.04.2024 – 17.00

UN Security Council: Emergency meeting on the threat of famine and attacks on humanitarian personnel

In an emergency meeting today, the UN Security Council addressed the catastrophic food security situation in the Gaza Strip and attacks on humanitarian personnel. The meeting was requested by Switzerland, among others. Despite the adoption of the resolution of 25 March 2024, which calls for an immediate ceasefire, the fighting continues. The resulting lack of access to food and inadequate water supplies are catastrophic for the civilian population. According to UNICEF, nowhere else in the world is child malnutrition as precarious as in the Gaza Strip.

In an emergency meeting today, the UN Security Council addressed the catastrophic food security situation in the Gaza Strip and attacks on humanitarian personnel.
In an emergency meeting today, the UN Security Council addressed the catastrophic food security situation in the Gaza Strip and attacks on humanitarian personnel. UN Photo

Only humanitarian aid could provide a remedy. However, widespread insecurity and restrictions on movement are forcing humanitarian organisations to stop their work. "The Gaza Strip has become the most dangerous place for humanitarian workers," emphasised Swiss Ambassador Adrian Hauri, Chargé d'affaires at the UN Security Council. In New York, Switzerland expressed its respect for all humanitarian aid workers who risk their lives every day in the Middle East. "Our thoughts today are with the organisations and families of the two hundred or so humanitarian workers who have been killed in Gaza since 7 October. Attacks on humanitarian workers are a violation of international humanitarian law and must stop immediately," said Adrian Hauri.

Switzerland reminded the Council of the International Court of Justice's call for Israel to work closely with the UN to ensure the provision of urgently needed basic supplies and humanitarian aid by all parties involved. In view of this, Switzerland once again appealed to the parties to strictly observe international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law. Switzerland emphatically called for the implementation of all Middle East resolutions adopted by the Security Council since the escalation of violence last October. "An immediate ceasefire is the only way to ensure that no more civilian lives are lost," emphasised the Swiss ambassador. In addition, all hostages still being held in Gaza must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 05.04.2024

02.04.2024 – 21.30

Air strike against the Iranian consulate in Damascus

Switzerland condemns the airstrike against the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus, which killed and injured several people. This airstrike considerably increases the risk of a major escalation in the region. The spiral of escalation must stop immediately. Switzerland calls on all parties to engage in dialogue and exercise the utmost restraint in order to prevent the situation from escalating further and to find a solution. Switzerland also emphasised this today at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

Statement by Switzerland on the airstrike against the Iranian consulate in Damascus, UN Security Council, 02.04.2024

25.03.2024 – 15.45

UN Security Council calls for immediate ceasefire

On 25 March, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the situation in the Middle East. The Council calls for an immediate ceasefire for the remainder of Ramadan, which should lead to a lasting sustainable ceasefire. The resolution was submitted to the Security Council for a vote by Switzerland together with the nine other non-permanent Council members as co-penholders.

After several vetoes, the UN Security Council today adopted, for the first time since 7 October, a resolution clearly calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East. Switzerland, which played a key role in finding a solution between the Council members during the negotiations, welcomes this adoption. In view of the dramatic consequences of the conflict for the civilian population, a clear appeal by the Security Council was essential. 

The UN Security Council votes.
On 25 March, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the situation in the Middle East. The Council calls for an immediate ceasefire for the remainder of Ramadan. © FDFA

The Council reiterates its demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights. The resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, the protection of the civilian population and humanitarian access. The Council also deplores all acts of terrorism and recalls that the taking of hostages is prohibited under international law.

In its statement after the vote, Switzerland underlined the central importance of this resolution. It responds to the most urgent needs on the ground and must be implemented immediately with a view to a lasting sustainable ceasefire. In New York, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of Hamas's terrorist acts on 7 October and emphasised that the two-state solution is the only perspective for peace in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side in dignity and security.

Switzerland worked tirelessly with all members of the Council to facilitate the adoption of this resolution. Today's decision by the Council underlines the weight of the non-permanent members of the Council who, despite the blockades, have enabled the Security Council to fulfil its mandate to maintain international peace and security.

Statement from Switzerland after the vote, 25.03.2024

22 .03.2024 – 15.00

Middle East: US resolution fails in the UN Security Council due to a veto

A US-drafted resolution on the situation in the Middle East failed in the UN Security Council today due to a veto by Russia and China. The resolution would have stressed the need for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza. To that end, the resolution would have supported the ongoing diplomatic negotiations led by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt. Among other things, this resolution demanded that the parties comply with their obligations under international law and called for an increase in humanitarian aid. Switzerland considers it necessary to implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. In particular, such a measure should facilitate the release of the hostages and the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid to and within the Gaza Strip. Switzerland supported the resolution in New York and deplores the outcome of the vote. There is an urgent need for the Security Council to call on the parties to respect international humanitarian law and protect the civilian population.

In its statement after the vote, Switzerland stressed that the adoption of this resolution would have sent a clear call to the parties to fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights. The resolution would also have sent a signal to the parties to work towards a durable ceasefire, almost six months after the acts of terrorism by Hamas, which Switzerland condemned. In addition, the resolution would have emphasized the centrality of a two-state solution as the only basis for peace and security in the region.

Statement after the vote on the US resolution, UN Security Council, 22 March 2024

11.03.2024 – 22.00

UN Security Council: Sexual violence is a serious violation of international humanitarian law

At its meeting today, the UN Security Council discussed the report of the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, released on March 4, following her visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to the report, there is reason to believe that women and girls were raped and tortured in various locations during the terrorist attacks coordinated by Hamas and other armed groups on October 7. In New York, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of the terrorist acts and reiterated its condemnation of all sexual violence in conflicts. In addition, the Patten report assumes that the hostages still being held are being subjected to sexual violence. In New York, Switzerland also reiterated its call for their immediate and unconditional release.

Sexual violence in conflict situations is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and human rights. "It is therefore imperative that the Security Council unanimously condemns all conflict-related sexual violence in the context of the Middle East conflict, as in all armed conflicts, and takes action to prevent its recurrence," said Riccarda Chanda, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN, at the Security Council meeting. She also emphasized that those responsible must be identified and held accountable. The relevant UN bodies must be guaranteed appropriate access. Switzerland drew attention to the ongoing investigations by the International Criminal Court. These are looking into all violations of international law in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since October 7.

Switzerland also expressed its deep concern at the information contained in the report on forms of sexual and gender-based violence against Palestinian men and women in detention centers, during house searches and at checkpoints. It condemned the fact that the hostilities in Gaza continue to cause numerous civilian casualties, including nearly 9,000 women. According to the UN, 95% of mothers do not have enough to eat. During today's Council meeting, Switzerland reiterated the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to release hostages, allow humanitarian access and protect civilians. "The Security Council must at all costs put an end to the current spiral of violence in the Middle East and relaunch a process of dialogue with a view to finding a political solution to this conflict, in which women play a key role," said the Swiss representative in New York.

Statement by Switzerland on gender-based violence in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 11.03.2024

05.03.2024 – 21.30

Briefing on the situation and role of UNRWA at the UN General Assembly

In light of the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, the UN General Assembly has addressed the role of UNRWA. In its statement in New York, Switzerland reiterated that the provision of emergency humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in Gaza is inadequate. UNRWA is currently the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza. In the current situation, it would be difficult for any other organization or agency to assume all the responsibilities that UNRWA carries out in the Middle East. UNRWA also provides basic services in the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. This is another reason why Switzerland is all the more concerned by the serious allegations against certain UNRWA employees suspected of involvement in the terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas on October 7, which Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms. Switzerland has a zero-tolerance policy towards any support for terrorism and any incitement to hatred or violence. It has taken note of the immediate measures taken by UNRWA, in particular the decision to dismiss the accused employees with immediate effect and to launch an investigation. Switzerland expects that the ongoing investigation will fully clarify the allegations and calls for appropriate measures to be taken thereafter.

At the General Assembly, Switzerland reiterated its position on the conflict in the Middle East and called on all parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law, to protect the civilian population and to allow rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza. Humanitarian aid must be delivered and distributed under acceptable security conditions. An immediate humanitarian ceasefire is needed, and the hostages must be released. She also emphasized that the restoration of a political horizon is crucial to work towards a two-state solution, which is the basis for lasting peace and stability in the Middle East.

Swiss statement on the role of UNRWA, UN General Assembly, 05.03.2024

27.02.2024 – 22.00

UN Security Council: Acute food insecurity in Gaza

The worsening food crisis facing the population of the Gaza Strip was at the focus of a UN Security Council meeting today. The meeting was convened at the request of Switzerland and Guyana in their roles as the Council’s co-focal points on "Hunger and Conflict". According to information from the UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA), the level of food insecurity and the associated risk of famine in the Gaza Strip is alarming. The escalation of hostilities in the Middle East since October 7 is the main cause of this acute need. The fighting is negatively impacting Gaza’s water supply, agriculture and food. The situation was already worrying due to the poverty that has prevailed since the closure of the Gaza Strip in 2008, which restricted movement and access. According to OCHA, one in four people in Gaza is now severly malnourished – more than half a million people. Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with disabilities, and the elderly are at a particularly high risk of death.

The dramatic situation is exacerbated by the severe restrictions on the transport of food into and within the Gaza Strip. In the Security Council, Switzerland reminded Israel to implement the measures ordered by the International Court of Justice on February 26, 2024. Among other things, the Court requires Israel to ensure the provision of urgently needed basic services to the Palestinian population and to facilitate the rapid and unhindered humanitarian aid. Against this background, Switzerland called on all parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law, including the prohibition of the use of starvation as a method of warfare, and to protect the civilian population.

"We, the members of this Council, must use our influence and take measures to prevent famine and save lives," emphasized Switzerland's representative to the Security Council. An immediate humanitarian ceasefire is urgently needed. In Resolution 2417 of 2018, the UN Security Council strongly condemned the starvation of civilians and the unlawful denial of humanitarian access as a tactic of war. Switzerland stated in the Council that it remains ready to work with all members of the Council to find a political solution that ends the suffering of the people and restores the prospect of peace.

Statement by Switzerland on the food security situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 27.02.2024

20.02.2024 – 17.00

Resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire fails in the UN Security Council

The UN Security Council today voted on a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Middle East. The draft resolution, which was presented by Algeria, failed due to a veto by the USA. The catastrophic humanitarian situation for over 2 million people in Gaza continues to worsen: hunger is rampant, the health sector is in ruins and a large part of the population has already been internally displaced several times. There is a lack of everything, especially humanitarian access. In addition, Israel's impending military ground offensive in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip poses a serious threat to over 1 million people. Numerous hostages are being held and their medical care is not guaranteed.

To counter these developments, in addition to an immediate ceasefire, the resolution would have called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, full compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the civilian population in need and rejected any forced displacement of the Palestinian population. By adopting the resolution, the Security Council would also have recalled the precautionary measures taken by the International Court of Justice on January 26, 2024 to prevent genocide in the Middle East and reiterated its call for a two-state solution. Finally, the failed draft resolution also expressed grave concern about the threat of further escalation in the wider region as a result of the violence in Gaza.

Switzerland supported the resolution and regretted the outcome of the vote. In its explanation of vote, it reiterated its position on the current escalation in the Middle East and emphasized that the call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza is in line with the Security Council's collective commitment to respect and ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law in all circumstances. "We cannot allow hundreds of thousands of besieged civilians to be left to starvation and epidemics without adequate security guarantees, whether for the provision of humanitarian assistance or for their own protection," Switzerland said.

During the negotiations on the draft resolution, Switzerland played a key role in ensuring that the demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, compliance with international law and the protection of the civilian population were enshrined in the text of the resolution. Switzerland calls on the parties to the conflict to immediately implement the UN Security Council resolutions adopted in December and November 2023 on the situation on the ground. The immediate release of the hostages, a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered access for humanitarian aid to Gaza and full compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights by all parties are urgent. On this basis, work must be done towards a political dialog with the goal of a two-state solution.

Swiss Statement after the vote, United Nations Security Council, 20.02.2024

What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

31.01.2024 – 18.00

UN Security Council: Measures of the International Court of Justice are binding on both parties

The UN Security Council today once again discussed the current situation in the Middle East. Switzerland reiterated its position and called in particular for international humanitarian law to be respected. In view of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, a humanitarian ceasefire is urgently needed to allow humanitarian access and the release of all hostages. Switzerland underlined its unwavering support for the International Court of Justice and recalled that the precautionary measures of January 26 are binding on both parties. It expects Israel to comply with the Court's order and to take the necessary measures to prevent the commission of acts of genocide and incitement to genocide. This requires immediate and effective measures, including the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance.

In New York, Switzerland also expressed its concern about the serious allegations against UNRWA staff suspected of involvement in the terrorist acts of October 7. Switzerland has a policy of zero tolerance towards any support for terrorism and incitement to hatred or violence. Switzerland has taken note of the immediate measures taken by UNRWA against the employees and expects that the internal investigation will fully clarify the allegations.

Finally, Switzerland warned against a regionalization of the conflict and reiterated that respect for international law, a humanitarian ceasefire, access for aid to Gaza and the release of hostages are only the first steps towards a lasting political solution to the conflict, which must be based on a two-state solution.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 31.01.2024

23.01.2024 – 22.00

Middle East: Federal Councillor Cassis stresses the need for a comprehensive solution

On January 23, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis took part in a ministerial debate on the Middle East at the UN Security Council. Under the French Presidency, the aim of the debate was to contribute to concrete progress towards a political solution to the crisis in the Middle East. The Head of the FDFA presented to the Council an analysis of the situation and presented his views on a solution to the conflict and a lasting peace in the region. 

Federal Councillor Cassis yesterday reiterated the Federal Council's position on the Middle East conflict during a high-level debate at the UN Security Council. He condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas. The head of the FDFA also drew attention to the precarious humanitarian situation in Gaza: "Since October 7, there seems to be no limit to the violence in Israel, in Gaza and throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis speaks at the UN Security Council.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis at the ministerial Middle East debate in the UN Security Council. © FDFA

In New York, the head of the FDFA also spoke of the UN Security Council's involvement in the Middle East conflict. The Council has recently adopted important resolutions that are very difficult to implement. Only some of the hostages have been released, civilians are the daily victims of the fighting, and international humanitarian law continues to be violated. "We cannot give in to frustration. We must not be discouraged," Ignazio Cassis told the Security Council. He stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to the solution, involving in particular the States of the region. Without a regional political consensus, there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East," said the head of the FDFA. At the diplomatic level, recent years have shown that there is room for political agreement and common interests between Israel and the states of the region. This space must be used to work towards a lasting peace, which requires a two-state solution. "This is the only solution that offers both Israelis and Palestinians the prospect of living in peace and security," Mr. Cassis emphasized.

The head of the FDFA called on the parties to the conflict, the states in the region and the members of the Security Council to act in order to lay the foundations for a lasting cessation of hostilities and a political solution to the crisis. This requires the immediate release of the hostages, a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered access for humanitarian aid to Gaza, and full respect for international humanitarian law. Switzerland is ready to support these efforts in cooperation with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the states of the region.

Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 23.01.2024

What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

12.01.2024 – Middle East: Switzerland calls for full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions

At an emergency meeting today, the UN Security Council once again discussed the situation in the Middle East, in particular the forced displacement of the Palestinian population. Switzerland expressed its concern about the steady increase in violence and the suffering of the civilian population. In light of the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, it called for the facilitation of humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip and the release of the hostages remaining there. To this end, Switzerland emphasized the need for a lasting humanitarian ceasefire. In the Security Council, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7, in particular the sexual violence against women and girls.

In order to alleviate the suffering of civilians, it is essential that the two resolutions on the Middle East adopted by the Security Council in November and December be fully implemented. In particular, the resolutions call for an increase in humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip by ensuring rapid, safe and unhindered access in accordance with international humanitarian law. There is a serious risk of famine, which already affects about half a million people in Gaza.

Switzerland also emphasized in New York that the Geneva Conventions prohibit the forcible transfer of populations and that such transfer can constitute a war crime. It rejects calls for the expulsion of civilians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Gaza, and calls on the leadership of all parties to refrain from provocative statements. Furthermore, all violations of international law committed in Israel and throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. To this end, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently conducting an investigation into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, covering both the events of October 7 and the ongoing events in Gaza and the West Bank.

The search for a political solution is urgent. In this context, Switzerland continues to support the two-state solution, so that Gaza can be rebuilt as part of a future Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and within secure and recognized borders.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 12.01.2024

29.12.2023 – 19.30

UN Security Council: Switzerland emphasises the need for a lasting political solution in the Middle East

At the request of the United Arab Emirates, an emergency meeting was held at the UN Security Council on Friday 29 December to discuss the current situation in the Middle East. The continuation of hostilities in Gaza and the increase in violence in the West Bank are worrying and reinforce the threat of a regional extension of the conflict. These developments compromise the political prospect of implementing a two-state solution, as supported by Switzerland.

In view of the latest developments, Switzerland has once again stressed that respect for international humanitarian law and human rights, the protection of civilians and the release of hostages must remain a priority for the Security Council. Switzerland also stressed the need for a lasting political solution in the Middle East.

On behalf of Switzerland and Brazil, as informal focal points on conflict and hunger within the Security Council, a statement was also made on the acute food insecurity in the Gaza Strip, which affects more than 90% of the population.

Statement by Switzerland to the UN Security Council, 29.12.2023

Joint Statement by Switzerland and Brazil, UN Security Council, 29.12.2023 (PDF, 1 Page, 107.0 kB, English)

22.12.2023 – 18.30

UN Security Council adopts resolution in favor of increasing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip

In light of the dramatically deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip, the UN Security Council today adopted a resolution aimed at increasing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The resolution addresses the urgent humanitarian needs of the civilian population, deplores all attacks against civilians, including terrorist acts, including those carried out by Hamas since 7 October, and calls for

  • Compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.
  • Rapid and unhindered access to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid on a sufficient scale, including through a UN Humanitarian Mechanism and the opening of various border crossings.
  • The immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages.
  • Protection of civilians by both parties to the conflict.
  • The need for a two-state solution.
  • The need to create the conditions for a lasting cessation of hostilities.

Switzerland supported the resolution submitted to the Council by the United Arab Emirates because it contributes to alleviating the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and because it incorporates various aspects of Switzerland's position on the current conflict. These include compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, the release of all hostages, the guarantee of safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza, and the need for a two-state solution.

With a view to facilitating rapid and unhindered humanitarian access, the resolution adopted today underlines the urgent need to consider steps to create the conditions for a durable cessation of hostilities. This is without prejudice to Israel's right to ensure its defense and security, but would facilitate humanitarian access and allow for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. In its statement after the vote, Switzerland welcomed the Council's decision and emphasized that today's resolution must be complementary to international humanitarian law, according to which all parties to the conflict and other states are obliged to allow and facilitate aid to the suffering population.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 22.12.2023

12.12.2023 – 22.30

UN General Assembly adopts resolution in favour of humanitarian ceasefire

The UN General Assembly today adopted a resolution in favor of a humanitarian ceasefire and increased humanitarian aid to Gaza. Last Friday, a resolution with much the same content failed in the UN Security Council due to a US veto. The resolution, which was presented to the 193 UN member states in the General Assembly by Egypt on behalf of the Arab states, calls for

  • An immediate humanitarian ceasefire
  • Compliance with international humanitarian law by both parties to the conflict
  • The protection of the Israeli and Palestinian civilian population
  • The immediate release of all remaining hostages

During the negotiations on the draft resolution submitted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the UN Security Council for a vote last Friday, Switzerland succeeded in ensuring that the demand for the protection of civilians on both sides and for the immediate release of all remaining hostages was included in the draft text.

The resolution addresses the most pressing need in the Middle East: The protection of civilians on both sides. After the vote, Switzerland emphasized its support for the resolution and called for its implementation. It also explained that its understanding of a humanitarian ceasefire is a temporary humanitarian pause that does not affect Israel's right to defense and security. Finally, Switzerland recalled that the parties to the conflict must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and respect human rights. The Federal Council discussed the draft Security Council resolution at its meeting on 8 December 2023.

The General Assembly also voted today on two amendments proposed by Austria and the USA. The Austrian amendment called for a clarification that the hostages are being held by Hamas and other groups, while the US amendment condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism since October 7. Both amendments failed due to a lack of majority. Switzerland also supported these two motions.

Unlike UN Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not binding under international law. Against this background, the resolution adopted today is primarily a signal. It should be seen as a recommendation by a majority of the international community. A 2/3 majority is required for the General Assembly to adopt resolutions in the area of peace and security. The resolution adopted today has a humanitarian focus and refers to UN Secretary-General Guterres’s letter of December 6, in which he called on the Security Council to take action to alleviate the humanitarian emergency in the Gaza Strip.

Swiss statement after the vote

08.12.2023 – 21.30

Resolution in favour of humanitarian ceasefire fails in UN Security Council due to veto

On December 6, UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote to the UN Security Council to call for a humanitarian ceasefire due to the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip. In this context, the United Arab Emirates introduced a resolution in the Security Council calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, compliance with international humanitarian law and the protection of Israeli and Palestinian civilians by both parties to the conflict, as well as the immediate release of all remaining hostages. Switzerland supported the resolution. However, it failed due to a veto by the United States. During the negotiations, Switzerland successfully argued for the protection of civilians on both sides and the release of hostages to be included in the text of the resolution.

The resolution would have had a humanitarian focus aimed at improving the dire situation of civilians in the Gaza Strip. After the vote, Switzerland clarified that the humanitarian ceasefire called for in the resolution would have been understood as a temporary humanitarian pause that would not have affected Israel's right to defense and security. The Federal Council discussed the draft resolution at its meeting today.

Switzerland regrets today's decision by the Council and will continue to work for the Security Council to agree on steps that go beyond humanitarian aid. This is essential for survival, but it will not resolve the conflict. A two-state solution negotiated by both sides is the basis for peace and stability in the Middle East.

Statement from Switzerland after the vote

Statement by Switzerland, Briefing on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 08.12.2023

04.12.2023 – Family of four was able to leave the Gaza Strip

On Monday, 4 December, a family of four was able to leave the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing. The family was received and assisted on the Egyptian side by staff from the Swiss embassy in Cairo. Thus, all Swiss nationals of whom the FDFA was aware were able to leave Gaza. A total of eight Swiss nationals could already leave the Gaza Strip on 2 and 16 November.

29.11.2023 – 18.00

Middle East: Switzerland welcomes the release of hostages in the UN Security Council

The UN Security Council today discussed the still urgent situation in the Middle East in the presence of various ministers. Ambassador Thomas Gürber, Head of the FDFA's UN Division, represented Switzerland. At the beginning of the debate, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to the Security Council that the trend of the increasingly deteriorating situation in the Middle East must be reversed.

Ambassador Thomas Gürber speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council in New York.
Ambassador Thomas Gürber reiterated Switzerland's position on the current conflict in the Middle East at the UN Security Council. © UN Photo

Thomas Gürber referred to the Security Council resolution on the protection of children adopted on 15 November. It represents an important first step by the Council in the current conflict and calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law, particularly with regard to the protection of the civilian population.

Switzerland welcomes the release of the hostages and thanks the states involved for their mediation efforts as well as the ICRC for its role in implementing the hostages’ release. Ambassador Gürber reiterated that Switzerland is calling for the release of all hostages. For this to succeed, humanitarian pauses are important, as called for by the Council in its resolution. Thomas Gürber emphasised that the humanitarian pauses must be extended for this purpose and to provide humanitarian aid to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.

Humanitarian aid is vital, but it is not a sustainable solution to the conflict. Switzerland will continue to work in the Security Council to promote consensus and a political solution to the conflict. The two-state solution, in which the Israeli and Palestinian populations can live side by side in peace, security and dignity, is the only basis for peace and stability in the Middle East.

In addition, Thomas Gürber recalled Switzerland's position on the current conflict in the Council: it strongly condemns the terrorist acts of Hamas since 7 October, recognises Israel's right to ensure its security and defence and calls on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population and to allow rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 29.11.2023

Newsticker: What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

22.11.2023 – Federal Council decides to bring in legislation to ban Hamas

On 11 October 2023, four days after Hamas carried out terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip against civilians in Israel, the Federal Council decided to designate Hamas a terrorist organisation. It instructed the FDFA to explore legal options for banning the organisation. On 22 November, the Federal Council decided to draft a federal Act banning Hamas, considering this to be the most appropriate response to the situation that has prevailed in the Middle East since 7 October. The Act will provide the federal authorities with the necessary tools to counter any Hamas activities or support for the organisation in Switzerland. The Federal Council instructed the FDJP and the DDPS, along with the FDFA, to submit the draft legislation by the end of February 2024.

On 11 October the Federal Council also instructed the FDFA to carry out a detailed analysis of the financial flows linked to the partner NGOs in the 2021–24 cooperation programme for the region. At its meeting on 22 November, the Federal Council was briefed on the results of the analyses carried out to date, which have not revealed any irregularities, as well as new control measures planned for the future.

In addition, eleven partner NGOs underwent in-depth verification of their compliance with the FDFA's code of conduct and the anti-discrimination clause in their contracts. For eight of them, no evidence of non-compliance was found, and their contractual relationship with the FDFA will continue. For three others, however, instances of non-compliance were identified, leading to the termination of their contracts.

Press release

List of FDFA partner organisations in the Middle East (fr)

16.11.2023 – 14.00

Swiss dual national has left the Gaza Strip

On the morning of 16 November 2023, another Swiss dual national was able to leave the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing. The man was received and assisted on the Egyptian side by staff from the Swiss embassy in Cairo. This meant that all Swiss dual nationals were able to leave Gaza who wished to do so. Seven people with Swiss citizenship had already left the country on 2 November. The FDFA is aware of four people who wish to remain in Gaza voluntarily.

15.11.2023 – 22.00

UN Security Council adopts resolution focusing on the protection of children in the Middle East

After weeks of wrangling, the UN Security Council today adopted a resolution on the protection of children in the Middle East. The text of the resolution, which was introduced by Malta as chair of the Council's Working Group on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict, calls for the protection of children through temporary humanitarian pauses.

According to the resolution, the purpose of the pauses should include the provision of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population, particularly children, the evacuation of sick and injured children from the Gaza Strip and the recovery of missing children. To ensure this, the resolution calls for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access for UN humanitarian organizations, their partners and the ICRC during pauses in the fighting.

The resolution adopted by the Security Council also demanded that all parties comply with international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians, in particular children, which is a priority of Swiss foreign policy. The text also calls for the release of all hostages held by Hamas since October 7.

Switzerland supported the resolution because it takes into account the urgent humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The resolution reflects four Swiss priorities: (1) humanitarian pauses for rapid humanitarian access; (2) respect for international humanitarian law; (3) release of hostages; and (4) prevention of the escalation of the conflict. The concise text of the resolution, which is geared to operational needs, deliberately refrains from political contextualization, especially since it proved impossible to reach a consensus on this during the negotiations. As a country with a long humanitarian tradition and as the depositary state of the Geneva Conventions, the protection of children in conflicts is of particular concern to Switzerland. According to international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions, civilians, including children, must be protected in conflicts. In its explanation of vote, Switzerland reiterated the position of the Federal Council on the current conflict in the Middle East, in particular its condemnation of terrorist acts by Hamas and its recognition of Israel's right to ensure its defense and security. The so-called "statement after the vote" gives states at the UN the opportunity to present their detailed positions and assessments in addition to the vote.

After four failed attempts to adopt a resolution on the Middle East since October 7, today's resolution is a testament to the Security Council's ability to act and take decisions. At the same time, the resolution sends an important signal to all actors and affected civilians on the ground. The last time the Security Council was able to adopt a resolution on the Middle East was in 2016. Switzerland will continue to advocate in the UN Security Council for measures that go beyond the protection of the civilian population and address the overall situation in the current conflict in the Middle East - namely a resolution that condemns the terrorist acts of Hamas, calls for the release of all hostages, recognizes Israel's right to ensure its security and demands rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 15.11.2023 (en)

Newsticker: What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

10.11.2023 – 22.00

UN Security Council: Humanitarian actors must be able to carry out their work safely and effectively

In light of the situation in the Middle East, the UN Security Council met again today for an emergency meeting. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, provided the Council with first-hand information on the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

In accordance with its position (see fold-out box at the beginning of the news ticker), Switzerland condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism in the Council in the strongest terms, called for the unconditional release of all Hamas hostages and recognised Israel's right to ensure its defence and security. Switzerland also reminded the audience that all parties must abide by international humanitarian law.

International humanitarian law regulates the conduct of war and protects the victims of armed conflicts. It is universally applicable. As a country with a long humanitarian tradition and as a depositary state of the Geneva Conventions, the protection of the civilians is a central pillar of Switzerland's foreign policy and a priority for its membership of the UN Security Council. In the Council, Switzerland expressed its deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. It emphasised that the civilian population is in urgent need of aid and protection without water, electricity and essential services. International humanitarian law also requires the protection of medical facilities and humanitarian aid workers. Last Tuesday's incident, in which an ICRC convoy carrying aid supplies to the Al-Quds hospital in Gaza came under fire, highlights the insecure environment in which humanitarian organisations work in Gaza.

In the UN Security Council, Switzerland will continue to actively contribute to the Council taking urgent measures, such as calling for humanitarian pauses or truces, to ensure rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian aid to Gaza. This should enable the ICRC and other humanitarian actors to mitigate the worsening health crisis in Gaza with their work. At yesterday's international humanitarian conference in Paris, Switzerland confirmed that it is earmarking additional funds totalling CHF 90 million for emergency humanitarian aid in the entire region.

Swiss statement on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 10.11.2023

Newsticker: What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

06.11.2023 – 21.00

UN Security Council emergency meeting on the situation in Gaza

At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, Switzerland expressed its deep concern about the number of civilian casualties in Gaza and the fact that hospitals, UN buildings and other civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip have been hit. It emphasised that the obligations under international humanitarian law are clear: civilians and civilian objects must be protected, both in Israel and in the Gaza Strip.

At the same time, Switzerland reiterated its unequivocal condemnation of the acts of terrorism and rocket fire by Hamas against the Israeli population in accordance with its position (see fold-out box at the beginning of the news ticker). It called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas in Gaza. Switzerland recognises Israel's right to ensure its defense and security and recalls that all parties are obliged to comply with international humanitarian law. In light of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, it called for the rapid and unhindered delivery of basic goods and services to all civilians in need.

Newsticker: What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

02.11.2023 – 14.00

Seven Swiss nationals arrived in Egypt

The FDFA confirms that seven Swiss citizens, including six dual nationals, were able to leave the Gaza Strip today via the Rafah border crossing. The staff of the Swiss Embassy in Cairo received the seven people on the Egyptian side and is providing them with consular protection. The FDFA is aware of one Palestinian who also holds Swiss nationality and is currently waiting to leave the country. Four dual nationals have decided to remain in the Gaza Strip for the time being.

01.11.2023 – 14.00

Federal Council to increase funding for humanitarian aid

At its meeting today, the Federal Council took the decision to request additional funding from Parliament for humanitarian aid in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory and their neighbouring countries. The CHF 90 million will go to the following organisations:

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

15 million

Red Cross Societies in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

15 million

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

25 million

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

10 million

World Food Programme (WFP)

10 million

World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins Sans Frontières, Terre des Hommes Switzerland, Médecins du Monde Switzerland

15 million

The FDFA will contribute CHF 4 million of the total CHF 90 million. The requested supplementary credit therefore totals CHF 86 million.

30.10.2023 – 21.00

UN Security Council: Emergency meeting on the situation in the Middle East

Against the background of the intensification of hostilities last weekend, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting today. Switzerland stressed that calling on all parties to protect the civilian population is and must remain a central task of the UN Security Council. Civilians must be protected in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Switzerland strongly condemns the acts of terrorism and the taking of hostages by Hamas, demands the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages and expresses its solidarity with the Israeli population. Three weeks after the start of hostilities, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic. The population lacks basic necessities such as water and electricity. Against this background, Switzerland calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and to allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.

View into the hall of the UN Security Council.
Against the background of the intensification of hostilities last weekend, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting today. © FDFA

International humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, is universal. It provides the legal framework for the protection of civilians in conflict. Switzerland recognizes Israel's legitimate desire for national defense and security. It recalls that international humanitarian law takes into account legitimate needs such as security and military necessity and must therefore be respected without exception. Violations of international humanitarian law and human rights must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable.

In the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, Switzerland has in recent weeks called for measures such as humanitarian pauses or a humanitarian ceasefire. It once again called on the Security Council to work together to end the violence. Four resolutions on the Middle East have failed in the Council in the last two weeks. Switzerland will continue to work actively for joint action by the Security Council and for a peaceful solution.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 30.10.2023

Newsticker: What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

27.10.2023 – 21.00

UN General Assembly adopts resolution on the situation in the Middle East

The humanitarian situation in the Middle East, particularly in Gaza, is deteriorating by the day. Following the failure of four resolutions at the UN Security Council, the President of the UN General Assembly (GA) convened an emergency special session of the GA on the Middle East on October 27 at the request of several countries. By a vote of 121 in favor to 14 against, with 44 abstentions, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Middle East. The resolution calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, rapid, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip, and respect for international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. Switzerland supported the resolution. With its emphasis on the protection of civilians, the resolution was inspired by Brazil's draft resolution to the UN Security Council, which failed last week due to a US veto.

Switzerland took the floor to explicitly condemn the Hamas terrorist attacks and to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages. An amendment to this effect, introduced by Canada and supported by Switzerland, failed to secure the necessary votes.

International humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, is universal. It provides the legal framework for the protection of civilians in conflict situations. Switzerland recognizes Israel's legitimate desire to ensure its national defense and security. It recalls that international humanitarian law takes into account legitimate needs such as security and military necessity and must therefore be respected without exception. Violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the Middle East must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable.

Switzerland strongly condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas. Three weeks after the start of hostilities, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is catastrophic. The population lacks basic necessities such as water and electricity. In view of this situation, Switzerland calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, to protect the civilian population and to allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.

Explanation of vote (fr, en)

Resolution, UN General Assembly, 27.10.2023

25.10.2023 – 22.30

UN Security Council: Again no agreement on the resolution on the situation in the Middle East

On October 25, 2023, the UN Security Council voted on a draft US resolution on the situation in the Middle East. The adoption of the resolution failed due to a veto by Russia and China. Switzerland supported the resolution because it would have represented a step by the Security Council to protect civilians in the Middle East and emphasized humanitarian pauses as a measure for humanitarian access. Switzerland was actively involved in the negotiations leading up to the vote to ensure that international humanitarian law and humanitarian pauses were enshrined in the text of the resolution.

The Council also voted on a Russian draft resolution that failed to secure a majority. Switzerland abstained. The Russian proposal called for a humanitarian ceasefire, which Switzerland supported in principle, but in the text of the resolution, which had not been discussed among Council members beforehand, contained elements that did not correspond to the Swiss position and assessments.

The UN Security Council meets in New York.
On October 25, 2023, the UN Security Council voted on a draft resolution on the situation in the Middle East. © UN Photo

The day before, during an open debate in the UN Security Council, Switzerland once again condemned the acts of terror, the indiscriminate firing of rockets against the Israeli population and the taking of hostages by Hamas. It also underlined Israel's legitimate desire for national defense and security and called on all parties to respect international law, in particular international humanitarian law, and to take measures to de-escalate. Switzerland also called on all actors to remove obstacles to the swift, safe and unhindered delivery of aid to Gaza.

The protection of civilians is a top priority for Switzerland as the Depositary state of the Geneva Conventions and a priority for its membership in the Security Council. "Civilians in Israel and in Gaza must be protected at all costs. We are committed to a Security Council that makes respect for international humanitarian law a priority, especially in urgent cases," said Swiss Ambassador Maya Tissafi, Head of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division and Head of the Middle East Task Force, in New York.

In her remarks, Switzerland underscored its commitment since last week for the Council to adopt a resolution that would allow forhumanitarian pauses and rapid, safe and unhindered access for aid to Gaza. Last week, two resolutions failed due to a lack of votes and a US veto.

Switzerland remains convinced that humanitarian pauses are urgently needed to provide the civilian population with essential goods and to allow humanitarian organisations access to the Gaza Strip in accordance with international humanitarian law. To achieve this, the Security Council must find a solution. Switzerland continues to advocate for this.

Switzerland calls on the UN Security Council to step up its efforts to fulfill its responsibility to protect civilians.Against the background of the current escalation of the conflict, urgent humanitarian measures are important. The goal of a sustainable peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution must not be lost sight of.

Statement after the vote: Situation in the Middle East, 25.10.2023

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 24.10.2023

Newsticker: What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

25.10.2023 – 13.00

FDFA suspends financial support to 11 Palestinian and Israeli NGOs

In view of the new situation that has prevailed since the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October and the resumption of hostilities in the Middle East, the FDFA has decided to suspend its financial support to eleven local NGOs (six Palestinian and five Israeli). These organisations are mainly active in the field of human rights and are supported as part of the Department's cooperation programmes in the Middle East. This decision will make it possible to carry out an in-depth analysis of the compliance of these organisations' communications with the FDFA's Code of Conduct and anti-discrimination clause, to which external partners are subject. The FDFA's cooperation activities in the Middle East must adapt to the new context that has prevailed since the resumption of hostilities. The relevance and feasibility of programmes will therefore have to be analysed in general terms.

The FDFA attaches great importance to ensuring that its financial support is used wisely. The FDFA systematically carries out close monitoring of all its partners, for example through field visits or exchanges with third parties. The task force set up by the Federal Council has also been asked to carry out a detailed analysis of the financial flows linked to the cooperation programme in the Middle East (see press release issued by the Federal Council on 11.10.2023).

24.10.2023 – 10.00

The Swiss forensic experts from the Disaster Victim Identification DVI CH team are back in Switzerland. The five experts provided support to the Israeli authorities in identifying the victims of the terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas.

The five-day mission to Israel enabled the necessary forensic work to progress. It followed an official request from the Israeli authorities.

22.10.2023 – 16.00

On 21 October 2023, a first convoy of several trucks delivered urgently needed humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The convoy crossed the Rafah border crossing on Saturday morning. In a statement, the FDFA welcomed the opening of the crossing for humanitarian aid deliveries. It stressed that water, medicine and food must be delivered regularly to help the people in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, another convoy of humanitarian supplies has reached the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian side and is expected to continue to the Gaza Strip. The FDFA stresses that in addition to the aid deliveries, humanitarian pauses are needed in order to make sure the population is provided with urgently needed support. It thanks Egypt, the UN and all the actors involved to make the aid deliveries possible.

18.10.2023 – 17.00

Civilians in Israel and Gaza are the first victims of the renewed outbreak of the conflict in the Middle East. Thousands of civilians in Israel and Gaza, including hundreds of children, have already lost their lives. Against this backdrop, the UN Security Council voted on 18 October 2023 on a resolution introduced by Brazil condemning Hamas attacks and calling on the parties to respect international humanitarian law, protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Switzerland supported the resolution. Due to a US veto, the adoption of the resolution failed. The draft resolution introduced by Brazil aimed to achieve consensus in the Security Council and contained important elements from Switzerland's point of view. For this reason, Switzerland regrets that this important resolution was not adopted today.

On Monday evening, a resolution text submitted by Russia had failed due to a lack of majority. This text did not contain a clear reference to international humanitarian law – one of Switzerland's priorities in the Security Council. Switzerland abstained from the vote.

Switzerland continues to advocate for solutions in the Security Council so that the Council fulfils its responsibility to protect the civilian population in the Middle East. However, it also remains active outside the Security Council at multilateral and bilateral level to improve the humanitarian situation in the Middle East.

Emergency meeting: Explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza

Immediately after the vote on the resolution, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. According to the UN, hundreds of people were killed and many injured. Switzerland recalls that hospitals and civilians must always be protected under international humanitarian law. A thorough investigation must be carried out.

Switzerland advocates in the Security Council for improvement of the situation in the Middle East

In recent days, Switzerland has taken a position on the escalating situation in the Middle East in various closed sessions of the UN Security Council. Last Friday, it once again condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism and recognised Israel's legitimate desire for national defence and security. It called on both parties to respect international law and underlined the need for humanitarian and medical aid to be delivered quickly and unhindered. In the negotiations on the resolution, Switzerland advocated these two objectives: on the one hand, the condemnation of terrorist acts and the protection of the civilian population, and on the other, respect for international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights.

Switzerland remains convinced that a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means. This must be based on a two-state solution negotiated by both sides in accordance with international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

17.10.2023 – 22.00

Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed in the explosion at  a hospital in Gaza. In a statement, the FDFA calls for a thorough investigation of the incident and recalls that hospitals and civilians must always be protected under international humanitarian law.

17.10.2023 – 18.00

Five Swiss forensic experts arrived in Israel on Tuesday 17 October 2023. They will assist the relevant authorities in identifying the victims of the Hamas terrorist attack. The duration of the experts' mission will depend on the Israeli authorities’ needs.

Under the heading of humanitarian aid, Israel has requested Switzerland's support in identifying the victims who died following the attack on 7 October. Switzerland has approved this request and the FDFA has entrusted fedpol with Disaster Victim Identification DVI CH - the national disaster victim identification team - with the implementation of this request. The main task of the Swiss specialists will be to identify the deceased in accordance with international standards, using unique characteristics such as DNA and fingerprints.

As with any deployment abroad, the security of the specialists is the responsibility of the host authorities, in consultation with fedpol and the FDFA's Crisis Management Centre (KMZ). In order to guarantee the safety of the Swiss specialists and the smooth running of their deployment, no further details on this subject will be released for the time being.

17.10.2023 – 17.00

Around 250 people are registered as travellers in Israel on Travel Admin. Calls to the FDFA helpline in connection with requests for assistance to leave the country have decreased significantly.

16.10.2023 – 18.00

Air strikes have killed family members of a Palestinian employed as a local FDFA staff member in the Gaza Strip. No further details can be given for reasons of data protection and personal privacy.

The FDFA is aware of nine Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who also hold Swiss citizenship. The FDFA is in contact with the persons concerned or their relatives and is supporting them as far as possible in leaving the country.

The FDFA is likewise informed of three Palestinians holding Swiss citizenship who have been able to leave the West Bank on their own.

15.10.2023 – 13.00

The number of calls to the FDFA helpline continues to fall sharply. The total of persons registered on Travel Admin has fallen to around 280. The FDFA is in contact with Swiss nationals on the ground and is providing them with assistance as far as possible.

Commercial flights from Israel can still be booked as far as the FDFA is aware. SWISS is not planning any further special flights at the moment. The FDFA does not envisage any departure of Swiss nationals from Israel organised by the Confederation and recommends that Swiss nationals therefore consider other possibilities for leaving the country.

The FDFA reminds that Swiss nationals should follow the instructions of the local authorities on the ground. In accordance with the Law on the Swiss Abroad, the FDFA and the representations inform natural persons and their relatives in the event of a crisis situation and provide them with assistance as far as possible. The safety recommendations of the FDFA must be observed.

The FDFA's travel advice for the countries in the region published on the Internet is up-to-date and reflects the current assessment of the situation. They are reviewed continuously.

14.10.2023 – 12.00

In cooperation with the airline SWISS, four special flights Zurich - Tel Aviv - Zurich were operated until Friday, October 13. According to SWISS, around 880 people were able to return to Switzerland on these four special flights. Embassy staff in Tel Aviv assisted departing Swiss nationals at the airport. The FDFA is also aware of travelers who were able to leave the country independently on other flights. There is no reliable information on the exact number.

The two special SWISS flights planned for Saturday, October 14, have been canceled at short notice for security reasons. For this reason, the booking hotline was closed early on Friday. The FDFA is examining further possibilities to assist Swiss nationals in Israel in leaving the country.

The number of calls to the FDFA helpline has fallen significantly since Wednesday. The number of people registered on Travel Admin has also fallen to around 300. The FDFA is in contact with Swiss nationals on the ground and is assisting them as much as possible.

The FDFA confirms that an Israeli citizen, who also held Swiss citizenship, was killed in the terrorist attacks on Saturday, October 7.

At this stage, the FDFA has no information on other victims or injured persons of Swiss nationality in the terrorist attacks.

13.10.2023 – 18.00

In collaboration with SWISS, three special flights have been operated so far. Staff from the Embassy in Tel Aviv assisted the Swiss nationals leaving the country at the airport. According to SWISS, around 660 people were able to return to Switzerland on these three special flights.

At the request of the FDFA, SWISS operated a fourth special flight on Friday, 13 October, Zurich - Tel Aviv - Zurich.

Two SWISS special flights planned for Saturday, October 14, were cancelled by SWISS at short notice for security reasons. For this reason, the booking hotline was closed prematurely. SWISS is contacting directly the customers who have already made a booking. The decision to cancel the flights previously confirmed by SWISS is based on a new assessment of the situation by SWISS.

The FDFA recommends that Swiss nationals check other commercial flight options or other departure options. The FDFA is examining other options to assist Swiss nationals in Israel to leave the country. 

The FDFA is aware of travellers who were able to leave the country independently by other flights. No reliable information is available on the exact number of persons.

Around 420 people are still registered on Travel Admin. The FDFA is in contact with Swiss nationals on site and is providing them with assistance as far as possible.

13.10.2023 – 15.00

In terms of humanitarian aid, Israel requested Switzerland's support in identifying the victims of the Hamas attack.

Switzerland approved this request, and the FDFA entrusted fedpol, together with Disaster Victim Identification DVI CH - the national disaster victim identification team - with the implementation of this request.

fedpol supports and coordinates DVI CH's operations abroad. For this reason, fedpol has requested the support of DVI CH. The latter is currently in contact with the cantonal police forces to prepare and guarantee the required commitment.

Between 10 and 20 specialists could be sent to Israel in the next few days.

The main task of the Swiss specialists will be to identify the deceased in accordance with international standards, using unique characteristics such as DNA and fingerprints.

13.10.2023 – 14.00

The Federal Councillor and Head of the FDFA held a press conference on developments in the Middle East on the sidelines of the GESDA (Geneva Science and Diplomacy Antipation) summit in Geneva.


13.10.2023 – 14.00

The FDFA confirms that an Israeli citizen, who also holds Swiss nationality, was killed in the terrorist attacks on Saturday, 7 October. The victim was living in Israel since 2004. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis expresses his deepest condolences to the relatives. For reasons of data protection and personal privacy, no further details can be given.

12.10.2023 – 15.00

In cooperation with SWISS, two special flights have been operated so far. Staff from the Embassy in Tel Aviv were on hand at the airport to assist Swiss nationals leaving the country. According to SWISS, around 430 people were able to return to Switzerland on these two special flights.

At the request of the FDFA, SWISS is operating further special flights Zurich - Tel Aviv - Zurich today, Thursday 12, and tomorrow, Friday 13 October.

Around 550 people with a connection to Switzerland are still registered on the Travel Admin app. The FDFA is in contact with these nationals on the spot and is providing them with assistance as far as possible.

The FDFA is aware of travellers who were able to leave the country independently by other flights. No reliable information is available on the exact number.

The FDFA recommends that Swiss nationals also check other commercial flight options or other departure possibilities. For its part, the FDFA is examining other possibilities to provide subsidiary support for Swiss nationals in Israel to leave the country. The FDFA will inform the public again as soon as further departure options are available. The FDFA does not envisage any departure of Swiss nationals from Israel organised by the Confederation.

The FDFA is currently examining indications of possible missing or deceased Israeli nationals also holding the Swiss nationality. It is in contact with the local authorities on this matter.

The FDFA reminds Swiss nationals on the ground to follow the local authorities’ instructions. In accordance to the Law on the Swiss Abroad, the FDFA and the representations inform natural persons and their relatives in the event of a crisis situation and provide them with assistance as far as possible. The FDFA's security recommendations must be observed. The decision to leave a crisis region is made voluntarily, at the own risk and at the own expense of the person leaving. The Confederation may participate in search and rescue measures of the receiving state or other states.

The FDFA's travel advice for Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Lebanon published on the Internet reflects the current assessment of the situation. They are reviewed on an ongoing basis.

11.10.2023 – 16.00

At its meeting on 11 October 2023, the Federal Council discussed the recent outrageous attacks carried out by Hamas from the Gaza Strip against civilians in Israel. It condemns these terrorist acts in the strongest terms and calls for the immediate release of the hostages held by Hamas. In view of the situation, Switzerland must be able to act effectively and in a coordinated fashion. To this end, the Federal Council has decided to expand the task force set up by the FDFA, and convert it into a Federal Council task force. The Federal Council takes the stance that Hamas should be considered a terrorist organisation.

Press release: Federal Council condemns terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel and enhances Switzerland's capacity to act

11.10.2023 – 13.00

At the request of the FDFA, SWISS will operate a second special flight from Zurich to Tel Aviv today, Wednesday October 11, and a third on Thursday October 12 for around 215 passengers each. SWISS had already repatriated a total of 218 people to Switzerland on October 10.

The FDFA recommends that Swiss nationals also check other commercial flight options and other departure options. For its part, the FDFA is examining other solutions to provide subsidiary assistance to Swiss nationals in Israel who wish to leave the country. The FDFA is also in contact with partner countries regarding departure options. The FDFA will communicate again as soon as other options become available. No organised departure of Swiss nationals from Israel is planned.

The FDFA is currently examining information concerning any missing or deceased Israeli nationals who also hold Swiss nationality and is in contact with the local authorities in this regard.

The FDFA's travel advice for Israel published on the Internet reflects the current assessment of the situation. They are checked on an ongoing basis.

10.10.2023

At the request of the FDFA, SWISS is operating a special flight today, Tuesday 10 October, for the benefit of Swiss nationals. The booking and payment for this special flight was made via a SWISS call centre. This flight will enable around 220 Swiss nationals to fly from Tel Aviv to Zurich.

At the request of the FDFA, SWISS will operate a further special flight Zurich - Tel Aviv - Zurich for around 220 people on Wednesday, 11 October. Other options are being examined in cooperation with third countries to assist Swiss nationals who wish to leave the country.

Tel Aviv airport is currently in operation, but may be temporarily closed at any time for security reasons. The FDFA does not envisage any organised departure of Swiss nationals from Israel.

The FDFA recommends that Swiss nationals also check and book other commercial flight options. For its part, the FDFA is examining other possibilities of subsidiary assistance for Swiss nationals in Israel to leave the country. The FDFA will communicate again as soon as further departure options are available.

At present, the FDFA has no information on Swiss victims. The FDFA's travel advice for Israel published on the Internet reflects the current assessment of the situation. They are reviewed on an ongoing basis. The FDFA is aware of a video in which Swiss kidnap victims are mentioned. The FDFA is clarifying the matter with the relevant authorities. The FDFA currently has no official information on possible Swiss hostages.

Currently, about 28,000 Swiss nationals and their families are officially registered in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory where they live and reside. About 600 people with a connection to Switzerland are registered on the Travel Admin App. The FDFA is in contact with these nationals on the ground and provides them with assistance as far as possible.

The FDFA helpline has so far received around 750 calls about the situation in Israel. The enquiries have come from people who are currently on the ground, from concerned relatives or from people who have planned a trip to Israel in the near future.

The FDFA reminds that Swiss nationals on the ground must follow the local authorities’ instructions. In accordance with the Law on the Swiss Abroad, the FDFA and the representations inform natural persons and their relatives in the event of a crisis situation and provide them with assistance as far as possible. The safety FDFA’s recommendations must be observed. The decision to leave a crisis region is made voluntarily, at the own risk and at the own expense of the person leaving. The Confederation may participate in search and rescue measures of the receiving state or other states.

09.10.2023

The FDFA still has no information about Swiss victims or Swiss nationals who have been kidnapped. The FDFA's travel advice for Israel published on the Internet reflects the current assessment of the situation. They are checked on an ongoing basis.

At present, around 28,000 Swiss nationals and their families are officially registered in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, where they live and reside. Around 430 people with links to Switzerland are registered in the Travel Admin application. The FDFA is in contact with these nationals on the ground and supports them wherever possible.

To date, the FDFA Helpline has received some 500 calls concerning the situation in Israel. These calls have come from people who are currently in Israel, from concerned relatives or from people who are planning a trip to Israel in the near future.

Tel Aviv airport is operational but may be temporarily closed for security reasons. The FDFA does not itself organise departures from Israel. At the request of the FDFA, SWISS is planning a special flight from Tel Aviv to Zurich on Tuesday 10 October, intended primarily for bookings by Swiss nationals in Israel. Due to technical problems in the SWISS booking procedure for this flight, bookings could not be made online as initially announced by the FDFA; the problems have been resolved in the meantime and bookings can now be made via a SWISS call centre.

Those wishing to leave the country are required to find flight connections or other departure options. More information will follow when the FDFA becomes aware of departures organised by partner countries from which Swiss nationals may benefit.

Press release: Situation in Israel / occupied Palestinian territory: FDFA sets up task force, 09.10.2023

08.10.2023 – 23.00

The Security Council met today for closed consultations on the situation in the Middle East. Switzerland condemned the shocking attacks, including acts of terror and rocket fire by Hamas against Israel. It called for the immediate release of those taken hostage who are currently being held in Gaza. It also deplored all civilian casualties and called on all parties to protect the civilian population and to respect the obligations of international humanitarian law. Switzerland underlined that de-escalation is the priority. It called on those responsible to do everything possible to bring about a ceasefire and avoid a regional escalation. It made this call also to those States that can exert influence on the parties involved.

08.10.2023 – 15.00

Switzerland condemns the firing of rockets by Hamas and the attacks from the Gaza Strip on Israel, including on numerous civilians. Switzerland calls for the immediate release of the hostages currently being held in Gaza.

Civilians must be protected and international law must be respected at all times. We call for an immediate cessation of violence in order to avoid further escalation, including at regional level.

The FDFA is closely following the situation in Israel and the OPT. The Swiss embassy in Tel Aviv and the representative office in Ramallah are operational and are responding to requests from Swiss nationals, including this weekend. They are also in contact with the competent authorities on the ground.

The FDFA currently has no information on Swiss victims. The FDFA's travel advice for Israel, published on the Internet, reflects the current assessment of the situation. It is reviewed on an ongoing basis.

There are currently around 28,000 Swiss nationals and their families officially registered in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, where they live and reside. About 310 persons with ties to Switzerland are registered in the Travel Admin application. The FDFA is in contact with these nationals on the ground and assists them wherever possible.

To date, the FDFA Helpline has received some 230 calls concerning the situation in Israel. These calls have come from people who are currently in Israel, from concerned relatives or from people who are planning to travel to Israel in the near future.

The FDFA reminds Swiss citizens in Israel to follow the instructions of the local authorities. In accordance with the Law on the Swiss Abroad, the FDFA and its representations will inform individuals and their families in the event of a crisis situation and provide them with assistance wherever possible. The FDFA's security recommendations must be followed. The decision to leave a region in crisis is made voluntarily and at the risk and expense of the person leaving. The Confederation may participate in search and rescue operations of the host state or other states.

Tel Aviv airport is currently open, but the number of commercial flights has been reduced. The FDFA does not organize departures from Israel itself. When the FDFA becomes aware of departures organized by partner countries from which Swiss nationals may benefit, a message is sent to all persons registered at the Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv and on Travel admin.

07.10.2023

Switzerland condemns today's rocket fire by Hamas and the attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Civilians must be protected and international law must be respected at all times. We call for an immediate end to the violence in order to avoid further escalation.

The FDFA is closely following the situation regarding the situation in Israel. The Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv is operational and in contact with the competent authorities. The FDFA currently has no information on Swiss victims. The FDFA's travel advice for Israel, published on the Internet, reflects the current assessment of the situation. The travel advice is reviewed on an ongoing basis and has been updated today.

There are currently some 28,000 Swiss citizens officially registered in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, where they live and reside. Around 140 persons with a connection to Switzerland are registered in the Travel Admin App.

The FDFA reminds Swiss nationals that they must follow the instructions of the local authorities. In crisis situations, Swiss citizens abroad should keep themselves informed of the current situation, in particular through the media and communications from the local authorities. The decision to travel or not to travel is at the discretion and responsibility of the traveller. Return travel should be organised individually or through a travel agency.

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