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Israel and the occupied /autonomous territories: ICRC restricts its movements in the West Bank

05-04-2002 News Release

Tel Aviv (ICRC) - Following security incidents involving Israel Defense Forces soldiers and directed at Red Cross staff, and attacks on its vehicles and premises, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been obliged to limit its movements in the West Bank to a strict minimum.

Several incidents have led to today's decision. Over the past two days, ICRC staff in Bethlehem have been threatened at gunpoint, warning shots have been fired at ICRC vehicles in Nablus and Ramallah, two ICRC vehicles have been damaged by Israeli tanks in Tulkarem and the ICRC premises in Tulkarem have been broken into.

Such conduct is totally unacceptable, for it jeopardizes not only the life-saving work of emergency medical services but also the ICRC's other humanitarian activities.

Though the movements of its vehicles and staff are being restricted, the ICRC will continue liaising with the Israeli authorities in an attempt to ensure their cooperation for the transport of medicine and food to hospitals and other institutions and individuals in need, for the safe passage of municipal engineers to repair damaged utilities, and for other humanitarian work.

ICRC Director-General Paul Grossrieder and the organization's head of operations for the Middle East, Werner Kaspar, are currently visiting Israel and the Occupied and Autonomous Territories to talk with the Israeli authorities at the highest level and appeal to them to meet their obligation under international humanitarian law to spare the civilian population and respect the work of the ICRC.lfil their obligations under International Humanitarian Law for respect to the civilian pop ulation and the work of the ICRC.