News release

Israel and the occupied territories: Restraint and de-escalation urgently needed as civilians pay a terrible price

Statement in the name of Fabrizio Carboni, Regional Director for the Near and Middle East, ICRC

"The recent rockets in Israel and airstrikes in Gaza represent a dangerous escalation of the tensions and violence witnessed over the past days in Jerusalem, including its Old City. It is clear that this cycle of violence will have heavy consequences on the civilian population in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as in the region.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is issuing an urgent call for restraint and de-escalation. Every minute that this cycle of violence continues is a danger to people's lives, their homes and the services and infrastructure they rely on, like hospitals and schools.

We remind all parties that all principles of the conduct of hostilities must be respected, e.g. direct and indiscriminate attacks against civilians are prohibited by international humanitarian law (IHL), any attack must be proportionate, and all necessary precautions must be taken to avoid civilian casualties.

Armed hostilities in densely populated areas are bound to result in an unbearably high human cost if these IHL principles are not respected.

We are in contact and dialogue with all parties and with our partners in the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Magen David Adom in Israel and are ramping up our medical response in Gaza.

At such times, it is critical that people can access the health care and treatment they need, and we reiterate our call for rapid, safe and unimpeded movement for ambulances and for staff and volunteers of the National Societies to carry out their important life-saving activities.

We have donated material to help treat people wounded in the violent confrontations in Jerusalem's Old City and supported the Palestine Red Crescent Society as they treat and transport the injured to hospitals.

The reality is that families who should be planning get-togethers and celebrations are instead facing the prospect of a new cycle of pain and fear. For their sake and protection, restraint is needed now."

Note to editors:

  • The ICRC has been present in Israel and the occupied territories since 1967. We promote compliance with international humanitarian law and work to mitigate the impact of violence, conflict and occupation on civilians through protection activities and assistance programmes. The ICRC visits detainees in Israeli and Palestinian places of detention and works to maintain family links through the Family Visit Programme. We also support livelihood projects and help improve access to essential services like water and electricity in Gaza. Above all, we stand up for people impacted by conflict and promote their rights and dignity. The ICRC has offices in Tel Aviv, the West Bank and Gaza and supports the work of the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Magen David Adom in Israel.

For more information please contact:

Chris Hanger, ICRC Jerusalem, +967 52 601 9150,

Yahia Masswadeh, ICRC Jerusalem, +97252-6019148,

Suhair Zakkout, ICRC Gaza, +972599255381,

Ruth Hetherington, ICRC Geneva, +33 6 33 28 88 23,