The conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel is having a serious impact on civilians.
According to official sources, more than 650 people have been wounded and more than 180 killed in Lebanon since the conflict broke out on 12 July. The south is the area that has witnessed the most violence and casualties but the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa valley and the north have suffered as well.
More than 100 villages and towns have been targeted in sea, land or air attacks (or a combination thereof). Although a great many people are fleeing the south and the southern suburbs of Beirut, their numbers are impossible to estimate at this time. Displaced persons are mostly staying in overcrowded schools and outdoor parks. Moreover, tens of thousands of people have crossed into Syria.
Many areas have suffered considerable destruction in the south and in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Entire buildings have collapsed on top of their residents.
Many major and minor roads and bridges have been bombed in the south, the Bekaa valley and the north. Some villages have lost their only road and people can only leave them on foot. The airport runways have been hit several times and seaports have also been targeted in Beirut, the south and the north.
People are rushing to shops and supermarkets to stock up on food, water, batteries and other necessities for fear of a prolonged crisis. Official sources assert that fuel reserves are sufficient for the immediate future. However, several fuel tanks in three locations on the coast have been bombed in the past days.
At present, the principal medical concern is the transfer of patients to hospitals. This includes the war-wounded and other persons in need of urgent medical care. Owing to the damaged road infrastructure and ongoing military operations, the Lebanese Red Cross, which provides most of the ambulance services in the country, has been very limited in its ability to act.
Since hostilities began on 12 July, cities and villages in northern Israel have been hit by rockets reaching as far south as Tiberias and Haifa, Israel’s third largest city. Twelve civilians have reportedly been killed and over 50 severely wounded in attacks on Nahariya, Safed, Meron and Haifa.
According to latest news, Hezbollah rockets hit a three-story building in Haifa, reportedly causing injuries.
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement action
The ICRC is currently working with the Lebanese Red Cross Society to ensure that the Society’s ambulance services remain operational to the widest extent possible. It is increasing its support for medical and ambulance services and stepping up its capacity to assist internally displaced persons and other vulnerable people.
The first ICRC relief items - two truckloads of food and medical supplies - reached Beirut on 18 July.
The ICRC has so far been unable to conduct operations in the field. Its staff based in Beirut, Tyre and Nabatiyeh are monitoring the situation as best they can and working closely with Lebanese Red Cross teams in their areas. The ICRC is also coordinating assessments of the situation and planning for further relief operations with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Lebanese Red Cross.
The Lebanese Red Cross has been among the humanitarian organizations most active in the south. Its ambulances have been transporting the wounded and the sick to hospitals and other medical facilities and its volunteers have been providing medical assistance for people fleeing the conflict zone. The Lebanese Red Cross, which has mobilized 2,000 volunteers, has 200 ambulances and three fully equipped operation rooms available in the south and north and in Beirut and the Bekaa valley. Between 12 July and the morning of 18 July Lebanese Red Cross ambulances transported 104 wounded and 90 other people requiring emergency treatment. It also removed 30 bodies.
In an incident on 13 July three volunteers were wounded when an ambulance was hit.
The Magen David Adom in Israel (MDA) has been on high alert since the beginning of the crisis.
The ICRC carried out a joint assessment mission with the MDA in affected areas of northern Israel over the weekend. The ICRC is assisting the MDA in its efforts to provide medical and other humanitarian services.
On 17 July the MDA issued a press release on its activities during the current crisis, stating that a fleet of life-saving vehicles (750 standard ambulances and mobile intensive-care units) spread across the entire country stood ready to operate with medical teams.
The MDA is also providing people in northern regions with essential supplies.