Israel-Hamas war: UAE warns of rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia

'This conflict is not compartmentalised and contained in Gaza Strip, and it threatens to unleash forces that destabilise all of us,' said Lana Nusseibeh


Sahim Salim

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A boy holds a Palestinian flag during a protest against Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip. Nov. 21, 2023. Photo: AP
A boy holds a Palestinian flag during a protest against Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip. Nov. 21, 2023. Photo: AP

Published: Thu 23 Nov 2023, 2:06 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 Nov 2023, 6:22 PM

A UAE diplomat has warned about an “alarming rise” in both antisemitism and Islamophobia around the world as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.

Hamas’ October 7th attack on Israel and the retaliatory strikes after have resulted in “grief and horror of immense proportions, as well as the normalisation of hate speech and dehumanisation of the other across social media, and in the real world”, said Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as she addressed the UN Security Council.

Reports released by US-based Arab and Jewish civil rights groups have documented an increase in prejudice and hate against Muslims and Jews.

“This conflict is not compartmentalised and contained in the Gaza Strip, and it threatens to unleash forces that destabilise all of us,” said the Emirati diplomat. “And that is why our efforts must scale up to defeat this rising tide of hatred.”

She referred to the “growing restrictions” on Palestinians’ freedom of movement in the West Bank.

“The numbers of Palestinians killed there since this latest round of the conflict in Gaza by extremist settlers, including 53 children, is another indicator that extreme ideologies are being mainstreamed today. This includes some Israeli government statements calling for the forced transfer of the Palestinian population. This must stop. Misinformation can lead to grave miscalculation and all government leaders are accountable for that.”

Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the United Nations

She was addressing the UN as an agreement was announced to release 50 women and children held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, and Palestinian women and children detained in Israel. However, the agreement for a four-day ceasefire in Gaza will not take effect till Friday — a day later than was announced.

The UAE diplomat expressed hope that the truce would be extended. “Many lives hang in the balance in the coming days, and these numbers and faces have names.”

Calling on the UN Security Council to deploy every tool at its disposal to resolve the crisis, the diplomat made an impassioned plea: "We have all felt anger, we’ve all felt despair, we’ve all felt helplessness as we have stared into the abyss of Gaza’s grief. But we must not act without the courage and the resilience that those innocents have shown and taught us these past weeks – and we should all feel angry if we fail them again today.”

Horrors of war

Nusseibeh detailed the scale of the Israel-Hamas war that has been raging on in Gaza city — which is “more densely populated than New York”.

“This tiny area is home to families who have spent decades trying to build normal lives as a community, despite repeated wars and displacement, and amidst an ongoing blockade,” said the envoy.

Within the 40-km-long Strip, over 12,000 locations have been hit, the diplomat said, citing the Israeli government. “This includes strikes on sites shielded by laws of war such as schools, hospitals, and refugee camps.”

The war, which has been raging on for nearly 50 days, has orphaned children and left mothers childless, she said. Inter-generational families have been “wiped out altogether by the largest indiscriminate aerial bombardment we have witnessed in the recent history of warfare”.

Referring to the Israeli children taken hostage by Hamas, she highlighted their parents’ grief of “unfathomable trauma”.

“The October 7th attack on Israel also brought horrific reports to the world of the killing of innocent civilians, and the torture and sexual violence against women, and they were rightly condemned and must be investigated with perpetrators held accountable.”

Referring to Israel’s response, she said the “very high number” of women, and particularly children, killed by this “relentless bombardment is a strong indicator that international humanitarian law is being violated”.

“The numbers speak for themselves as do the indiscriminate bombing targets. This must stop immediately. There can be no justification for attacks that imperil large groups of civilians, especially women and children,” said Nusseibeh.

Humanitarian access

The UAE reiterated its call for humanitarian access throughout the Gaza Strip. “And this must not be linked to hostage negotiations. We unequivocally reject that premise,” said Nusseibeh.

She called for the implementation of the Security Council resolution that called for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors through the Gaza Strip to facilitate the provision of essential goods and services.

“Prioritising efforts to stop the violence and to working towards the long-term resolution to this conflict is the only rational strategy to ensure security and stability for both Palestinians and Israelis,” added the envoy. “And Palestinian and Israeli women and children deserve a political horizon. We are seeing slip away any chance for a peaceful future, as we watch this war unfold. But we do not have to take that path, and clear choices lie ahead for Israel and for Hamas.”


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