Israel and the occupied territories: Evacuation order of Gaza triggers catastrophic humanitarian consequences

Geneva (ICRC) — Nothing can justify the horrific attacks Israel suffered last weekend. Our hearts go out to people who lost family members or are worried sick about loved ones taken hostage. We reiterate our call for their immediate release and stand ready to conduct humanitarian visits. But those attacks cannot in turn justify the limitless destruction of Gaza. The parties must not neglect their legal obligations regarding the methods and means used to wage war.
News release 13 October 2023 Israel and the occupied territories

The instructions issued by the Israeli authorities for the population of Gaza City to immediately leave their homes, coupled with the complete siege explicitly denying them food, water and electricity, are not compatible with international humanitarian law.

When military powers order people to leave their homes, all possible measures must be taken to ensure the population has access to basic necessities like food and water and that members of the same family are not separated.

Gaza is a closed area of limited size and resources. People have nowhere safe to go and many, including the disabled, elderly, and sick, will not be able to leave their homes. International humanitarian law protects all civilians, including those who remain. Today, it is impossible for Gazans to know which areas will next face attack.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is scaling up to provide life-saving relief. But our teams will require pauses in the fighting to work safely and effectively. With a military siege in place, humanitarian organizations including the ICRC will not be able to assist such a massive displacement of people in Gaza. The needs are staggering, and humanitarian organizations must be able to increase aid operations.

The ICRC office in Gaza City received the same instructions to leave, as did other international organizations. We are extremely concerned for our colleagues in Gaza and their families. We remain committed to doing everything we can to provide humanitarian protection and assistance to the people of Gaza.

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Moussan, ICRC Dubai,, +971 504 254 091
Imene Trabelsi, ICRC Beirut, tel. +961 313 83 53,
Crystal Wells, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 642 80 56,
Sam Smith, ICRC London, +44 7809 374 593,
Frédéric Joli, ICRC Paris, +33 6 20 49 46 30,
Elizabeth Shaw, ICRC Washington, +1 202 361 1566,
Yuriy Shafarenko, ICRC New York, tel: +1 917 631 1913,
Galina Balzamova, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 90 35 45 35 34,
Shuangfeng Zhang, ICRC Beijing, tel: +86 138 100 355 22,