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ICRC activities in Israel, the Occupied and Autonomous Territories: January 2006

31-01-2006 Operational Update

An update of activities carried out by the ICRC in Israel, the Occupied and Autonomous Territories in January 2006.

Visits to detainees falling under the ICRC mandate are a long-standing priority of the institution in Israel, the Occupied and Autonomous territories. ICRC delegates regularly visit Israeli and Palestinian places of detention to monitor treatment and living conditions. The observations and recommendations are submitted confidentially to the authorities in charge.

 Detainees visited in Israeli places of detention  

In January, ICRC delegates visited 4 interrogation centres and Ayalon, Eshel, Damoun, Hasharon and Nafkha prisons. They also visited Binyamin, Efraim, Gush Etzion, Howara and Salem provisional detention centres.

 Detainees visited in the Territories  

    

On the Palestinian side in the Gaza strip ICRC delegates visited the Saraya central prison and the interrogation centre of the Preventive Security.

In the West Bank, ICRC delegates visited Jenin and Jericho central prisons as well as the Military Prison in Jericho and the Palestinian Marine Forces in Bethlehem. They also visited the interrogation centres of the General Intelligence (Mukhabarat) and the Preventive Security in Bethlehem and Jericho. Other visits were carried out to the police stations in Dahariyeh, Jenin and Jericho.

 Family visits and messages to detainees  

The ICRC's family visit programme allows families from Gaza, the Wes t Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to visit relatives held in Israeli places of detention. Facilitating these contacts is of primary importance to the ICRC.

In January, around 18,400 people travelled to 23 Israeli places of detention and visited around 7,000 relatives held.

Another way of maintaining family links while people are detained is to exchange Red Cross Messages (RCM). In the period mentioned, more than 2,700 messages regarding family news were exchanged through the ICRC between detainees and their relatives.

 Assistance  

 Latest distributions in the West Bank and Gaza  

During the month of January, the ICRC carried out the following relief activities:

House destruction relief programme

4 families whose homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were destroyed received ICRC relief kits.

 H2 assistance programme  

In the city of Hebron (zone H2 – under Israeli control), the ICRC distributed food parcels to around 1,700 families especially affected by strict closures.

 Emergency assistance  

126 food and hygiene parcels were distributed to vulnerable families in Gaza and the West Bank.

    

 Cooperation with the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and Magen David Adom (MDA)  

    

The Joint Statutes Commission visited the PRCS and the MDA as well as their respective authorities to review the adherence to the ten conditions of recognition as required by the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The ICRC continues to facilitate meetings between the MDA and the PRCS who signed an agreement under the auspices of the Swiss Government in November 2005. This agreement aims to facilitate contacts and exchanges between the two National Societies in order to improve performance in life-saving humanitarian work. The outcomes of the agreement will be presented to the 29th International Conference, due to be held on the 20 and 21st of June 2006.

 Raising awareness of the ICRC and international humanitarian law  

    

 Promoting respect for the civilian population  

It is the responsibility of all those involved in armed conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The ICRC supports their efforts by raising awareness about IHL and about its role and activities.

In January, a presentation on the ICRC and the relations between IHL and human rights was held for graduate and law students taking a human rights course at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. During the course, these students also intern in Israeli and Palestinian Human Rights organisations.

On the Palestinian side, the ICRC carried out sessions for PRCS staff and volunteers, as well as local NGO employees.

Over the last months, the ICRC be came increasingly concerned about the growing number of permanent, or semi-permanent, measures imposed within the West Bank by the authorities to restrict movements of people including increasing difficulties of access to East Jerusalem and to the Jordan Valley for people living in other parts of the occupied territories.

In January, ICRC delegates continued to monitor difficulties faced by many farmers to access their land located on the East side of the West Bank Barrier, after the end of the Olive Harvest.