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Israel and the Occupied Territory: Concern About Civilians

ICRC Bulletin
20 November 2012

Israel and the Occupied Territory: ICRC Concerned About Plight Of Civilians

The ICRC is concerned about the rise in the number of civilians killed or injured by hostilities in Gaza and Israel. “In recent days, intense fighting has had serious consequences for civilians in both the Gaza Strip and Israel,” said Juan-Pedro Schaerer, who heads the ICRC delegation in Israel and the occupied territories.

According to reports, hundreds of rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip, resulting in casualties among Israeli civilians and the destruction of property.

At the same time, the Israel Defense Forces are carrying out over 100 air strikes on the Gaza Strip every day, causing an increasing number of deaths and injuries. Life in Gaza was already difficult, and the hostilities are exacting a harsh toll on its residents.

“Mounting casualty figures are making the situation difficult for Gaza’s main hospitals, which have been receiving deliveries of medicines and medical materials over the past few days,” said Patrick Gueissaz, head of the ICRC’s sub-delegation in Gaza. “However, it is difficult to maintain deliveries of these items. If the situation escalates, leading to more casualties, demand will exceed supply.”

The ICRC is monitoring the situation closely and is in regular contact with both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. As part of its dialogue, the ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law. In particular, the ICRC is underlining the requirement to distinguish between military objectives on the one hand and civilians and civilian objects on the other, and the duty to take precautions regarding means and methods of warfare.

The ICRC is working closely with the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners - Palestine Red Crescent, Magen David Adom in Israel and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Since 16 November, the ICRC has:

•facilitated the entry of eight truckloads of medicines and disposables, which were delivered to the Gazan ministry of health for distribution to hospitals;
•supplied medicines, disposables, infusions and dressing materials to the Gazan ministry of health, which then delivered them to hospitals;
•provided dressing materials for the ambulances that operate in the Gaza Strip;
•provided plastic sheeting to the Palestine Red Crescent, so it could repair its damaged facilities;
•facilitated a shipment of 300,000 litres of fuel from Rafah to Gaza’s power station, which will enable it to supply electricity to the Gaza Strip for the next three to four days;
•coordinated the transfer of 2,000 litres of fuel to Shawa Hospital in Beit Hanoun, in the north of the Gaza Strip;
•visited affected areas in Israel with the Magen David Adom, to assess the needs of the population;
•conducted a joint mission in Egypt with the Egyptian Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to the Al Arish border area with Gaza.

Once the ICRC and Palestine Red Crescent have carried out an initial assessment, and as soon as the security situation permits, the organizations will start distributing plastic sheets, tape and other emergency items such as food, kitchen utensils, blankets, hygiene items and tents to people in Gaza whose houses have been damaged during the current clashes.

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