Israel and the occupied territories: Horrific suffering of civilians must end
With a military siege in place, people in Gaza are deprived of food, water and medicine. Sparse aid is arriving, leaving communities without the essentials to survive. Safe and sustained humanitarian access across Gaza is urgently needed.
Massive bombardments are gutting civilian infrastructure across Gaza, sowing seeds of hardship for generations to come. Critical services like health care, water and electricity must be immediately restored in Gaza as a life-saving priority.
“Among the most shocking impact is the agony children have had to bear. Children have been ripped from their families and held hostage. In Gaza, ICRC surgeons treat toddlers whose skin is charred from widespread burns,” said ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric. “What more must children endure? The images of suffering, dead and wounded children will haunt us all. This is a moral failing.”
Parties must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect all civilians from the conduct of military operations. Both the spirit and the letter of the law must be applied.
“The hostages must be released immediately. They play no part in this conflict, and we reiterate our offer as neutral intermediary to facilitate any future release operation. Until then we continue all our efforts to urge Hamas and all those with influence to allow ICRC personnel to visit the hostages,” said President Spoljaric.
Scenes of damaged hospitals and ambulances are unacceptable. Tragically, medics from both the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Magen David Adom in Israel, alongside UN and other humanitarian workers, have been killed in the last month while working to help others. Medical facilities are sanctuaries for the sick and wounded, as well as for the thousands of displaced people seeking refuge. They must be protected. The human cost of not doing so is unbearable.
One month on, families face an agonizing wait for news of their loved ones, while the conflict has killed, maimed and displaced far too many men, women and children. The sides must deescalate now to prevent yet more suffering.
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About the ICRC
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial and independent organization with an exclusively humanitarian mandate that stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It helps people around the world affected by armed conflict and other violence, doing everything it can to protect their lives and dignity and to relieve their suffering, often alongside its Red Cross and Red Crescent partners.