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Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory

13-11-1997 Statement

 United Nations, General Assembly, Resumed tenth emergency special session, Agenda item 5  

 Statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
New York, 13 November 1997

Pursuant to the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and to the mandate conferred on it by the States party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) established a permanent presence in Israel and the occupied territories in 1967 with a view to carrying out its humanitarian activities there.

For 30 years, ICRC delegates have striven to discharge the organization's mandate by pursuing a wide range of activities, such as visiting detainees, restoring and maintaining contact between family members separated by the events, and providing assistance to medical facilities in need. While taking practical steps whenever necessary to help persons protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention, the ICRC has always called upon the Israeli government to comply fully with the provisions of that Convention.

In its capacity as the custodian of international humanitarian law and in agreement with the international community, the ICRC has always affirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Today, the ICRC considers that Israel remains bound by the provisions of that Convention, in particular as concerns the territorial and administrative powers it is actually exercising there.

In the course of its activities, the ICRC has repeatedly noted disrespect for various provisions of international humanitarian law, such as the transfer by the Occupying Power of parts of its population into occupied territory, in contravention of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The ICRC is particularly concerned about the serious humanitarian consequences of such disrespect and has repeatedly expressed its concern through bilateral and multilateral representations, and in public appeals.

Article 1 common to all four Geneva Conventions stipulates that the " High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances " . Indeed, the ICRC has always welcomed all individual and joint efforts by the States party to the Geneva Conventions aimed at discharging this obligation and enhancing respect for international humanitarian law.

Of course, the means and methods deployed to fulfil these legal and political responsibilities are to be decided upon by the States. In this regard, the ICRC wishes to emphasize that international responses to recurrent humanitarian problems should be assessed in view of the practical results for the benefit of the protected population. The ICRC would also like to stress that it must be in a position to act in a completely neutral and independent manner and free of any politically motivated constraints in order to carry out its humanitarian mandate in accordance with its principles.

Ref. LG 1997-121-ENG