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Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories: ICRC calls for restraint following latest fighting

28-02-2008 News Release 08/37

Geneva / Tel Aviv / Jerusalem (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is deeply concerned about the latest escalation of violence affecting the Gaza Strip and nearby Israeli towns.

In recent days there has been an alarming intensification of the fighting and, once again, civilians on both sides – including children – are bearing the brunt.

Numerous rockets have been fired at the Israeli towns of Ashkelon and Sderot, hitting civilian areas and landing inside a hospital compound. At the same time, the Israel Defense Forces have carried out several air strikes inside the Gaza Strip. On both sides, there have been civilian fatalities and injuries.

“Civilians on both sides continue to be subjected to unacceptable distress and danger from the ongoing risk of attack,” said Christoph Harnisch, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Israel and the occupied territories. “The ICRC calls on all parties to exercise restraint, and reminds them of the obligation to comply with international humanitarian law at all times.”

That law requires a clear distinction to be drawn between the civilian population and military objectives. It strictly prohibits attacks that are indiscriminate or directed against civilians and civilian objects, and stipulates that medical facilities and personnel must be respected and protected.

The ICRC insists that all those concerned must respect and ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law at all times.

  For further information, please contact:
  Leila Blacking, ICRC Jerusalem, tel : +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 50
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel : +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
  Iyad Nasr, ICRC Gaza, tel : +972 8 28 28 874 or mobile +972 59 60 30 15 (Arabic)
  Yael Segev-Eytan, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel : +972 3 524 52 86 or +972 52 275 75 17 (Hebrew)