ICRC activities in Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories: August 2007
19-09-2007 Operational Update
In Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories, the ICRC works towards ensuring the faithful application of international humanitarian law (IHL), especially the Fourth Geneva Convention which protects civilians during armed conflict and occupation - Also available in Hebrew.
Promoting respect for the civilian population
The ICRC continued to draw the attention of the Israeli authorities to the humanitarian consequences of the illegal routing of the West Bank Barrier within the Occupied Territories, particularly in the Hebron and Tulkarem districts. The ICRC expressed particular concern about the difficulties faced by Palestinian farmers wanting to access farmland located between the Green Line and the West Bank Barrier, as well as the problems faced by some of the isolated communities living in these areas which are almost entirely cut off by the Barrier.
The preparatory work for ensuring a smooth and efficient management of the 2007 olive harvest continues.
During contacts with the Israel Defense Forces, the ICRC raised its concern about several military operations carried out in Gaza during the past months. It stressed that IHL must be fully respected during such operations, particularly the principle of proportionality and the obligation to take precautions to spare civilians.
The ICRC has also repeatedly contacted the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration to alert them to the humanitarian consequences of restrictions and administrative measures imposed on Palestinian semi-nomadic communities living in the Jordan Valley.
Monitoring conditions of detention
In Israel, the Occupied and Autonomous Territories, the ICRC regularly visits detainees falling under its mandate in order to monitor their conditions of detention and the treatment they receive. The observations and recommendations of the ICRC are submitted confidentially to the authorities in charge.
In August, the ICRC visited 20 Israeli places of detention, including provisional detention centres, police stations, prisons, and i nterrogation centres which are visited on a weekly basis. ICRC delegates also visited prisons, police stations and other detention facilities managed by the Palestinian Authority in Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus, Jenin, as well as detention places in the Gaza Strip.
Family visits and messages to detainees
The ICRC helps families from Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Occupied Golan to visit their relatives held in Israeli places of detention. In August, just under 16,000 people visited more than 6,600 detainees in 27 detention facilities. Detainees and their families also exchanged nearly 1,300 Red Cross Messages containing family news. Moreover, the ICRC contacted several hundred families to inform them of the whereabouts and welfare of detained relatives.
In early June, Israel suspended the ICRC Family Visit Programme for families living in Gaza, affecting some 900 detainees.
House destruction relief programme
In the West Bank and Gaza the ICRC provided mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, food parcels and other essential items including tents when required to 25 families whose houses were totally or partially destroyed.
In the old city of Hebron (H2), the ICRC distributed food parcels to 1,730 families particularly affected by strict closures as well as extra wheat flour for nearly 1,200 vulnerable families.
The ICRC also provided 604 food parcels and 301 hygienic kits to 302 needy families in the West Bank and Gaza.
Cash for work programme
The ICRC also paid for more than 8,000 days of work on various infrastructure or agricultural projects across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The ICRC continues to support the health sector in Gaza by bringing medical goods into Gaza and providing essential assistance to the hospitals.
In addition, the ICRC, as a neutral intermediary, negotiated with all parties to arrange for the transport of injured and sick patients out of Gaza through the Erez crossing point. Between 19 June and 16 August, ICRC facilitated the evacuation of more than 800 patients.
Working through the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the ICRC provided nearly 170 m3 of medical supplies to 18 general hospitals. The ICRC continued to closely monitor the situation at hospitals in the West Bank, in particular whether staff and patients have sufficient access to the facilities. In Gaza, the ICRC focused on identifying and responding to the emergency needs of hospit als.
In August, the PRCS launched a Mobile Field Hospital training exercise in Nablus, involving PRCS staff and volunteers from throughout the West Bank and Gaza. A simulated coordinated response exercise involving the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Civil Defence and Military Medical Service was performed.
The ICRC also launched technical lectures for PRCS Emergency Medical Technicians in order to help them upgrade to paramedics.
The ICRC participated in the opening of the MDA's Third International Youth Exchange, at Zikhron-Ya'kov. This 10-day event attracted over 30 youth delegates from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Philippines, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda and the UK.
All those taking part in armed conflict have to respect international humanitarian law (IHL). The ICRC supports their efforts by raising awareness of IHL and about its role and activities.
In August, the delegation organized presentations on the ICRC and basic principles of IHL to IDF checkpoint commanders, soldiers in the Military Police West Bank Barrier passages unit, Israeli Prison Service senior commanders, staff at the Gush Etzion Provisional Detention Centre and Civil Administration officers.
To prepare for the National IHL Competition in Israel, organized by the ICRC and due to take place in December, participating students attended courses and training sessions on IHL and on what is expected from them d uring the competition. These were taught by professors from various academic institutions and ICRC staff.
On the Palestinian side, the ICRC organized information sessions on its activities and the basic principles of IHL for members of NGOs, village councils and students as well as PRCS staff and volunteers in the West Bank and Gaza.