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Israel and the occupied territories: Protection, prevention and assistance - 2013

23-05-2014 Facts and Figures

Throughout 2013, the ICRC worked to assist and protect those in need and to promote respect for international humanitarian law, in particular protection of civilians living under occupation. Efforts to ensure that military and law enforcement operations comply with IHL and other norms also continued.

International humanitarian law and the protection of civilians

The ICRC submitted confidential reports to the Israeli and de facto authorities in Gaza, and maintained dialogue with the Palestinian authorities and armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza, on matters relating to the respect of civilians and civilian infrastructure, as well as people no longer participating in hostilities such as the wounded and sick and detainees, and to ensure the safety of medical services, personnel and infrastructure, in times of armed conflict.

Support for people whose houses have been demolished

The ICRC and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) provided emergency assistance for more than 120 households whose homes in East Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and the West Bank were demolished.

Through bilateral and confidential dialogue, the ICRC continued to address this matter with the relevant Israeli authorities, emphasizing their obligations, including respect for the provision of humanitarian assistance to the affected communities.

Assisting detainees

Support was provided to the Palestinian authorities to improve the living conditions of those held in detention and to assure their access to health care. This included providing 15,000 detainees with hygiene kits in 11 detention centres.

Renovation work was carried out in three prisons in Gaza in cooperation with the de facto Interior Ministry. In Katiba prison, 360 detainees benefited from the renovation of sanitation and other facilities, while in Middle Area prison, 450 detainees received improved access to food through the upgrading of the prison’s kitchen. Renovations are also ongoing in Ansar prison.

Visiting detainees and strengthening family links

The ICRC organized family visits and the exchange of Red Cross messages for detainees held by the Israeli authorities. The condition of detainees on hunger strike and other vulnerable detainees was closely monitored. Over 6,500 detainees from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the occupied Golan received more than 57,000 visits from their relatives, including 150 sick or elderly people transported by specially adapted vehicles.

Since July 2013, families from the Ramallah district have been able to register for family visits more easily by telephone. The same system, aimed at offering a better service to families and avoiding unnecessary travel, was also launched in the Qalqilyah district.

Acting as a neutral intermediary between Syrian and Israeli authorities, the ICRC helped residents in the Golan maintain contact with their relatives in Syria. It also offered other services to connect family members separated by past and present conflicts in the region. Assistance was also provided in transporting apples from Golan residents to Syrian markets.

Medical and health services

During 2013, the ICRC supported hospitals, emergency medical services, orthopaedic and prosthetic treatment and ambulance services, as well as the care of Syrian war wounded.

Support to the health authorities in Gaza contributed to the clinical management of over 223,000 surgical cases, 40,500 surgical operations and 480 hemodialysis patients in the Gaza Strip. This included assistance to 13 Palestinian Ministry of Health hospitals with 2,100 beds, and providing over 140 tonnes of emergency drugs and disposables, biomedical spare parts, preventative maintenance kits, and generators and spare parts. The ICRC also offered physical rehabilitation services to 2,500 patients through its support for the Artificial Limb and Polio Centre in the Gaza Strip.

Support was also given to the routine maintenance of 62 ambulances and to a pre-alert call system developed between the PRCS’s emergency service and Shifa hospital emergency departments.

The 333-bed Nasser hospital now has an adequate power supply system thanks to the upgrading of the transformer and electrical distribution boards carried out jointly between the ICRC and the de facto Ministry of Health.

The emergency departments of the European Gaza, Kamal Edwan and Al Aqsa hospitals were renovated. This project included training for some 60 doctors, 120 nurses, 100 administrative personnel/guards and 30 community leaders.

In addition to ad hoc medical donations provided to West Bank and East Jerusalem hospitals, the ICRC also gave financial support enabling the PRCS emergency service to respond to more than 85,000 call-outs in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

In Israel, the ICRC supported the treatment of Syrian wounded in Israeli hospitals and provided hygiene items and clothes for 100 wounded people.

Rebuilding livelihoods

The ICRC helped restore the livelihoods of people in the West Bank and Gaza by providing agricultural support, micro-enterprise grants and training, and by making representations to the Israeli authorities.

In the West Bank, 750 farmers (nearly 140 households) affected by the route of the West Bank barrier or settlements received livelihood support, while an additional 600 people (from over 100 households) benefited from cash-for-work projects. In the Gaza Strip border areas, 1,900 people (300 households) received cash to purchase materials for cash-crop farming, while a further 13,400 people (2,200 households) received seeds and fertilizer based on the results of ICRC-supported wheat trials to improve winter crop production.

In the restricted area of Hebron, some 30 households (260 people) received grants to establish or boost small business enterprises and create employment.

Upgrading water and sewage infrastructure

The ICRC worked with local water institutions in the Gaza Strip and West Bank to renovate, operate and maintain key water and sanitation facilities. It also initiated a dialogue with the Israeli authorities on water management policies in the West Bank.

Projects to improve sanitation services for 865,000 people in the Gaza Strip included the construction of a sewage pipeline in Hawaber, increasing the capacity of a wastewater treatment plant in Khan Yunis and rehabilitation of the storm-water basin in Sheikh Radwan area.

The environmental improvement of Wadi Gaza continued with the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, installation of a sewage pipeline and the renovation of a sewage pumping station.

In the West Bank, 4,000 people now have access to safe drinking water following the completion of a water pipeline in Jayyous, implemented in cooperation with the Palestinian Water Authority.

Disaster management and conflict response capacities

The ICRC worked with the PRCS and Magen David Adom to enhance their disaster management and conflict response capacities.

The Magen David Adom emergency response service improved its conflict preparedness, including by participating in an emergency drill for regional conflict organized by the Israeli authorities. The service, together with other Red Cross and Red Crescent movement partners, the UN and international organizations, also supported its government in an earthquake simulation, establishing legal mechanisms to facilitate the entry of humanitarian teams and emergency equipment.

The PRCS strengthened its disaster management and dissemination capacities through staff and volunteer training, enabling it to provide emergency services and distribute assistance to affected populations in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as conduct first aid training in communities to help strengthen their resilience.

During the extreme weather in Israel and the occupied territories in December 2013, the ICRC donated items to the PRCS, the Magen David Adom emergency response service and the Ministry of Health in Gaza. ICRC support also enabled the PRCS emergency medical services to respond to around 86,000 call-outs in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Dialogue with civil society

In over 500 meetings, conferences or other similar events held during 2013, the ICRC briefed over 9,000 civil society representatives in Israel and the occupied territories about IHL.

As part of this effort, in cooperation with leading Israeli academic institutions and an influential think tank, the ICRC co-organized four special events involving senior representatives from the Israeli military and security forces. These events, which included debates about compliance with IHL during armed conflict, helped to strengthen the ICRC’s position as a reference institution on issues related to IHL and humanitarian action.


Palestinian families on their way to visit relatives detained in Israël. 

Palestinian families on their way to visit relatives detained in Israël.

Artificial Limb and Polio Centre, Gaza. A man learns to walk again with an artificial leg.   

Artificial Limb and Polio Centre, Gaza. A man learns to walk again with an artificial leg.

Near Bethlehem, West Bank. Bedouin receive first aid training and education. 

Near Bethlehem, West Bank. Bedouin receive first aid training and education.

Gaza. Construction work in progress on Wadi Gaza sewage works. 

Gaza. Construction work in progress on Wadi Gaza sewage works.