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The ICRC in Israel and the occupied territories

01-03-2012 Overview

The ICRC started work in Israel and the occupied territories in 1948, following the first Israeli-Arab conflict. Its presence became permanent in the aftermath of the 1967 war. The ICRC repeatedly reminds Israel of its obligations under IHL towards the population living under occupation, through bilateral and confidential dialogue. The organization focuses on the protection of civilians and the welfare of detainees held in Israeli and Palestinian places of detention, and helps the most needy. The ICRC supports the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom (the Israeli National Society).

The ICRC started work in Israel and the occupied territories in 1948, following the first Israeli-Arab conflict. Its presence became permanent in the aftermath of the 1967 war. The ICRC repeatedly reminds Israel of its obligations under IHL towards the population living under occupation, through bilateral and confidential dialogue. The organization focuses on the protection of civilians and the welfare of detainees held in Israeli and Palestinian places of detention, and helps the most needy. The ICRC supports the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom (the Israeli National Society).

Gaza

Despite the easing of certain restrictions on imports and exports to and from the Gaza Strip, the ICRC remains concerned by the restrictions that Israel still places on the movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip, the severe hardship these cause for the local population and their impact on Gaza's economy.

Health services in Gaza face chronic shortages of drugs, disposables and fuel. The unstable electricity supply endangers the lives of patients and interrupts the daily provision of care. The ICRC supports medical facilities in Gaza by providing medical supplies and, on occasion, fuel as well.

The occupied West Bank

The daily lives of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are affected by the presence of Israeli settlements, the West Bank barrier and restrictions on movement. The ICRC endeavours to improve access to land for thousands of farmers, and supports the most vulnerable communities through agricultural projects. ICRC water and sanitation engineers seek to improve access to clean drinking water in the West Bank and to adequate waste water treatment in the Gaza Strip.

Detainees and missing persons

The ICRC conducts regular visits to Palestinians detained by Israel in order to monitor their treatment and living conditions. The ICRC also facilitates the exchange of news between detainees and their families and organizes family visits. The ICRC continues to call on Israel to resume the family visit programme for Gazans, which was suspended since 2007.

The ICRC also visits people held by the authorities in the Gaza Strip and by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and is pursuing efforts to clarify the fate of Israelis and Palestinians still unaccounted for from past conflicts in the region.

The occupied Golan

Acting as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC facilitates contacts and trade between Syrians of the occupied Golan and Syria proper and has repeatedly called for the resumption of family visits, which were suspended in 1992.

International humanitarian law

The ICRC promotes IHL and compliance with international standards to political authorities, arms bearers, religious circles and civil society, among others, and raises awareness of its humanitarian concerns with the international diplomatic community.

The ICRC maintains dialogue on compliance with IHL and other international standards with the Palestinian Authority, the Gaza authorities and Palestinian armed groups whose indiscriminate rocket attacks launched from Gaza into civilian areas in Israel provoke fear among the population.

Cooperation with National Societies

The ICRC provides technical and financial support to both the Magen David Adom in Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, to help boost their emergency response capacity.


Photos

 

Palestinian boys stand next to a destroyed house in the Gaza Strip
© Reuters / S. Salem