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ICRC activities in Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories: March 2008

06-05-2008 Operational Update

In Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories, the ICRC works towards ensuring the application of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects civilians during armed conflict and occupation – Contains link to Hebrew version.

   

   
 
 
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The ICRC continues to follow up closely on the humanitarian consequences of the recent military operations in Gaza, intervening for the respect of civilians and the medical mission during combat operations. It continues to monitor the health system, with a particular focus on Gaza.

In Israel, the Occupied and Autonomous Territories, the ICRC regularly visits detainees falling under its mandate in order to monitor the conditions of their detention and their treatment. Its observations and recommendations are submitted confidentially to the authorities in charge.

 
Protection 
 

 Promoting respect for the civilian population  

    

In the Gaza Strip, the ICRC continued to follow-up on the humanitarian consequences of the recent military operations, intervening for the respect of civilians and the medical mission during combat operations. In the West Bank, the ICRC continued to intervene with the Israeli authorities about the humanitarian consequences of the illegal routing of the West Bank Barrier within the Occupied Territories. The ICRC is particularly concerned about the difficulties that Palestinian farmers having in reaching their lands in the " seam zone " (the land located between the Green Line and the West Bank Barrier), as well as the problems faced by some of the isolated communities living there. The ICRC also continued to follow the humanitarian consequences stemming from the restrictions on movement imposed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on the Palestinian population in order to protect settlements.

 Visits to detainees in Israeli places of detention  

In March, the ICRC visited 20 Israeli places of detention. This included provisional detention centres, police stations and prisons as well as the interrogation centres, which are visited on a weekly basis.

 Visits to detainees in the Palestinian territories  

    

The ICRC's delegates visited prisons, police stations and other detention facilities managed by the Palestinian authorities in Ramallah, Jericho, Hebron, Qalqilia, Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip.

 Family visits and messages to detainees  

    

The ICRC's family visit programme enables families from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Occupied Golan to visit relatives held in Israeli places of detention. In March, more than 15,000 persons travelled to 27 Israeli places of detention and visited some 6,000 relatives in detention.

The Israeli authorities suspended the family visit programme for families from Gaza on 6 June 2007. The suspension remains in effect and about 900 detainees from Gaza being held in Israeli prisons are affected.

Besides family visits, exchanging Red Cross messages enables families to remain in touch with relatives in detention: the ICRC passed more than 3,000 messages between detainees and their relatives. The ICRC also made several hundred phone calls to family members to inform them of the whereabouts and welfare of their relatives who had been detained.

 
Assistance 
 

 House destruction relief programme  

    

In the West Bank and Gaza the ICRC provided food and other essential items to 77 families whose houses were totally or partially de stroyed by the Israeli Army.

 H2 assistance programme  

    

In the old city of Hebron (H2), the ICRC distributed almost 2,700 food parcels, to more than 1,300 families particularly affected by strict closures, and over 8,600 kg of wheat flour.

 Emergency assistance  

    

In the West Bank and Gaza, the ICRC provided emergency assistance – in the form of 160 food parcels and 60 hygienic kits – to 114 needy families.

 Cash-for-work programme and livelihood support  

The ICRC also paid for over 1,200 days of work in various infrastructure or agricultural projects across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

 Health  

    

The ICRC, working through the Ministry of Health, provided almost 31 tonnes of various medical supplies to 18 general hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank. Access for patients needing treatment outside Gaza is followed up closely.

The ICRC conducted a three-day War Surgery Seminar in Gaza, facilitated by two ICRC surgeons and attended by 55 surgeons and other health professionals. In addition to the general management of weapon wounds, specific focus was placed on triage and mass casualty management, post surgical physiotherapy and rehabilitati on, and surgical considerations related to amputations and the fitting of prosthetics.

At the Artificial Limb and Polio Center in Gaza, supported by the ICRC since November 2007, 195 patients received treatment. The ICRC provided almost 3 tonnes of supplies to the Center.

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

The ICRC transported, on behalf of the PRCS, five ambulances and two multi-purpose vehicles to Gaza, after a long approval process with the responsible authorities. Also in Gaza, PRCS and ICRC conducted a joint assessment of houses destroyed during the military operations in Jabalia.

The MDA launched a programme to provide psychological support to its paramedics and volunteer ambulance drivers. The ICRC attended the event, alongside representatives from the French and American Red Cross Societies.

The independent monitor for the MDA and the PRCS undertook a second mission in 2008 in relation to the implementation of the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding agreed to by the two National Societies.

 
Raising awareness about the ICRC and international humanitarian law 
 

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.

The delegation continued its regular presentations on the ICRC and basic principles of IHL to the top command of the Israeli Prison Service, IDF officers of the Nablus brigade, officers from the IDF medical corps, senior officers from the Civil Administration, IDF checkpoint commanders and the military police company in Nablus.

The ICRC also organized presentations on the basic principles of IHL for students, journalists, members of women's associations, NGOs, medical staff and security forces as well as PRCS employees and volunteers in the West Bank and Gaza. Finally, a number of events were organized in various Palestinian districts on the occasion of International Women's Day (8 March).