International Committee of the Red Cross

Red Cross and Red Crescent assist over 2,500 Palestinians at Rafah Terminal

The Egyptian Red Crescent Society, with assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross, is providing tents, food parcels, hygiene installations and fans to over 2500 people stranded on the Egyptian side of the closed Rafah Terminal, on the southern border of the Gaza Strip. At the same time the ICRC is making representations to the relevant Israeli and Palestinian authorities to allow the people, who have been blocked at Rafah for up to 12 days, to cross into the Gaza Strip as soon as possible. For nearly two weeks, ERCS volunteers, working closely with local Egyptian authorities, have been assisting the group stranded at the border, which includes women, children and elderly people, with basic relief and medical assistance. 

ICRC responds to needs in Rafah

The ICRC has been particularly active in Rafah since a large-scale Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation began there on 17 May. The organization formed a special operational unit to help to ensure availability of health care and water and to respond to other needs arising from the destruction of houses. The ICRC is coordinating the safe passage of Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulances through various Rafah military checkpoints with the IDF around the clock. In addition, following an assessment of all hospitals serving the Rafah area on 17 and 18 May, an ICRC medical team delivered surgery kits for 200 war-wounded patients while the Palestine Red Crescent set up an advanced medical post near Al Najjar Hospital. 

From Iraq to Ramallah: Father reunited with family

On 28 April, the ICRC repatriated a released civilian internee from Iraq to his native Palestinian village in the West Bank. The last time Ibrahim had seen any of his relatives was when his parents visited him while he was detained near Baghdad three years ago. Following the coalition-led invasion of Iraq, Ibrahim’s parents lost track of their son. A few months ago, they walked into the ICRC’s Jerusalem office and asked for help finding out where he was. 

Assistance is not a long-term solution

After long deliberations, the ICRC has taken the difficult decision to end two major relief aid programs in the West Bank. Indeed, the long-term solution is not to support the occupied population through emergency assistance but rather to ensure that its basic rights under International Humanitarian Law are respected. According to International Humanitarian Law, it is the clearly defined primary responsibility of the occupying power, in this case of the State of Israel, to take care of basic needs. 

Barrier causes serious humanitarian and legal problems

The International Committee of the Red Cross is increasingly concerned about the humanitarian impact of the wall on many Palestinians living in occupied territory. The measures taken by the Israeli authorities linked to the construction of the Barrier in occupied territory go far beyond what is permissible for an occupying power under international humanitarian law. The ICRC therefore calls upon Israel not to plan, construct or maintain this Barrier within occupied territory. 

ICRC ends large-scale relief for Palestinians

The ICRC’s large-scale distributions of relief aid to several hundred thousand Palestinians living in the towns and villages of the West Bank came to an end in mid-November 2003. Since June 2002, the ICRC had provided urgently needed aid to 300,000 people struggling to make ends meet. However, humanitarian aid is no longer the best way to help them. It is essential that the West Bank Palestinians’ basic rights under international humanitarian law are respected. In the long term, humanitarian aid cannot be a viable solution to the crisis.