Red Cross refuses to call on Israel to release Palestinian children held by army

Israeli occupation forces try to arrest a Palestinian boy during a demonstration against Israel’s wall in the West Bank village of al-Maasara, 9 November 2012.   Oren Ziv ActiveStills

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is refusing to call on Israel to immediately and unconditionally release almost two hundred Palestinian children held by the Israeli army.

“ICRC doesn’t usually call for the release of detainees in general. We monitor their condition and if we have any concerns we discuss with the authorities issues regarding their treatment,” Nadia Dibsy, the organization’s spokesperson in Jerusalem, told The Electronic Intifada in relation to these children.

Dibsy’s comments came one day after the ICRC released a statement calling for the “unconditional release” of three Israeli settlers, two aged 16 and one aged 19, reportedly abducted from the occupied West Bank by unknown persons on 12 June.

“We are very concerned by the fate of the teenagers. International humanitarian law prohibits abduction as well as the taking of hostages,” Robert Mardini, head of ICRC operations in the Middle East, said in the statement. “They must be treated humanely, and their lives and dignity protected and respected.”

Children tortured

As of the most recent figures in April, 196 Palestinian children, 27 of whom were under the age of 15, were in Israeli military custody according to the monitoring group Defence for Children International – Palestine Section.

Human Rights groups including B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have all recently condemned Israel’s routine mistreatment of these children, including the practices of solitary confinement, torture and denial of contact with family.

Last year, for instance, Israel’s B’Tselem issued a report that found Palestinian children held by the army are regularly tortured and threatened with rape in order to force confessions.

Double standard favors settlers

“The issue that we’re discussing is abduction which is illegal under international law,” Dibsy told The Electronic Intifada in relation to the missing settlers.

Asked whether Israeli military raids in which Palestinian children are routinely seized from their beds in the middle of the night did not constitute “abduction,” Dibsy insisted that the two cases were completely different.

While acknowledging that military detention, torture and solitary confinement of Palestinian children by Israel are also violations of international humanitarian law, Dibsy insisted that the different treatment was justified.

“We are monitoring where minors are detained in Israeli places of detention,” she said.

“We look into persons who are detained and discuss with the authorities issues regarding their treatment.” Dibsy said that the content of such discussions was “confidential.”

But when asked repeatedly, Dibsy would not call on Israeli occupation forces to release Palestinian children, a position that casts grave doubt on the organization’s claimed “neutrality.”

ICRC offers obscure justifications rooted in “international humanitarian law” for its apparent double standard.

But Palestinian parents will find it impossible to understand why ICRC appears content for their children to remain in the brutal custody of an occupation army while rushing to the defense of colonial settlers.




I too cannot see that there is any difference between the children of Palestine and the children of Israel. Children are children. I guess it's true, some are more equal than others. In my mind the Red Cross is becoming a more and more corrupt organization where those in power are to be catered to and the oppressed are just not worth as much. Maybe the ICRC has been taking lessons from the American Red Cross?! The continuing abuse and abduction of young Palestinian children must stop.
Also, would someone please clarify for me just exactly who and what the three allegedly abducted Israeli children are. Most of the information I have seen is that they are settler children aged 17 or so who are members of the IDF. If so, let's please call them what they are: soldiers of occupation/oppression.


International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC

Dear Sir/Madam,

It is very rare indeed to have to complain to the ICRC!

I mean, after all the brave work they do around the world, what could they have possibly done to deserve criticism?

It comes from the story that the Red Cross refuses to call on Israel to release Palestinian children held by the army!

One might say fine, the ICRC does not engage in politics-so what?

However then we read that the ICRC had issued a call for the “unconditional release” of three Israeli settlers, two aged 16 and one aged 19, reportedly abducted from the occupied West Bank on 12 June!

This is just not fair!

I wonder how many young –and innocent -Palestinians of the same age group as the kidnapped Israeli youngsters [one aged 19 two aged 16] have been recently arrested by the Israelis.


We do not know whither they are runaways, missing, or kidnapped and by whom. What we know is that "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." So, the law tells all settlers to leave all areas occupied in 1967.


It's scandalous that the Red Cross d'ont take a firm position on this case and not widely publicize in all possible media


I'm outraged and initiating my own boycott of the Red Cross. I will never again donate to any Red Cross organization!


Clearly they- the ICRC- are displaying hypocrisy of the worst kind. I guess Palestinian children are sub-human so they don't warrant any consideration. Israeli children on the other hand are too precious to lose.


let us face the reality...ICRC is not a political organisation and it has no mandate to call on Israel to release the Palestinian detainees. yet, its part of their mandate when there is an abduction to call for the immediate release since the fate of the three abducted people is not known!! The political authority of the Palestinians are the one responsible for calling ISrael to release the detainees.!! let us not forget that ICRC is working and supporting Palestinians since years and without the ICRC many of the palestinian families of the detainees wouldnt be able to see their children inside the prisons!


The word "abducted" itself shows which side ICRC is taking. Until it is proved, no neutral organization can tell whither the three illegal settlers are runaways, missing, or abducted.


No one should be surprised by the double standards of the Red Cross. It has always supported the powerful

During the 2nd world war it visited both Auschwitz children's family camp and Thereisenstat and gave them the all clear. The children's camp was sent to the gas chambers after the ICRC left and at the 'model' concentration camp Thereisenstadt inmates had already been shipped to Auschwitz prior to the ICRC visiting.

The Red Cross are simply keeping up traditions.


e mail sent to ICRC Geneva
Dear Sir/Madam,

It was with some form of joy and happiness that i read the tweet concerning the above subject matter. This is very good!

I have been following developments in this region for close to twenty years and iam aware that palestinian kids get rounded up by the Israeli army and not for once have i ever read ICRC calling for their release.

In as much as i do not support neither isreal nor palestine as an impartial observer , i believe that ICRC must not only be seen to be fair and above board in its dealings , but must also be seen to act above board
What is fair, must and should be fair, no body's life should be seen to be or treated as more valuable than the others and that is why this is succinctly captured in the UN Declaration on Human Rights of 1948

I want to implore ICRC to be firm, equitable, just, considerate and fair in all its dealings in Isreal and the OT

Thank you and keep up doing your good works