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ICRC activities in Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories: October 2007

19-11-2007 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 relative to the protection of civilians in times of armed conflict and occupation – Contains link to Hebrew version.


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As the closure of the Gaza Strip continued for the fifth consecutive month, the ICRC is closely following up on the humanitarian consequences of the closure, in particular the transfer of patients who need medical treatment not available in the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, it monitors the access of farmers to their lands during the ongoing olive harvest.

In Israel and 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.


 Promoting respect for the civilian population  

Following the tightened Israeli closure on the Gaza Strip, the ICRC intervenes in favour of patients who need urgent medical treatment only available in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank or abroad.

The ICRC continued to draw the attention of Israeli authorities to the humanitarian consequences of the routing of the West Bank Barrier within the Occupied Territories. The ICRC is particularly concerned about problems experienced by Palestinian farmers who want access to the land located between the Green Line and the West Bank Barrier, as well as about the problems faced by some of the isolated communities living there.

The ICRC also addressed the relevant Israeli authorities concerning the ongoing house demolitions in East Jerusalem and their humanitarian consequences.

 Detainees visited in Israeli places of detention  

In October, the ICRC visited 20 Israeli places of detention. This included provisional detention centres, police stations and prisons as well as the interrogation centres, which are visited on a weekly basis.

 Detainees visited in the Palestinian territories  

On the Palestinian side, ICRC delegates visited prisons, police stations and other detention facilities managed by the Palestinian authorities in Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarem and Gaza.

 Family visits and messages to detainees  

The ICRC's family visit programme allows families from Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan to visit relatives held in Israeli places of detention. In October, more than 14,000 persons travelled to 27 Israeli places of detention and visited about 6,000 relatives in detention.

The Israeli authorities suspended the family visit programme, for families from Gaza, on 6 June. The suspension remains in effect and some 900 detainees from Gaza being held in Israeli prisons are affected.

Almost 1,500 messages with family news were exchanged through the ICRC between detainees and their relatives.

The ICRC made several hundred phone calls to family members to inform them of the whereabouts and welfare of their relatives who had been detained.


 House destruction relief programme  

On the West Bank and in Gaza, the ICRC provided mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, food parcels and other essential items including tarpaulins and tents when required to 10 families whose houses had been totally or partially destroyed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

 H2 assistance programme  

In the old city of Hebron (H2), the ICRC distributed 3,520 food parcels to 1,760 families particularly affected by strict closures as well an extra 10 kg of wheat flour each to almost 1,200 vulnerable families.

 Emergency assistance  

On the West Bank and in Gaza, the ICRC provided emergency assistance to 626 needy families, in the form of 1,123 food parcels and 164 hygienic kits.

 Cash for work programme and livelihood support  

The ICRC also paid for 3,164 days of work in various infrastructure or agricultural projects throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

ICRC livelihood support programmes have allowed 45 households to develop new ways of earning their livelihood despite restrictions on movement caused by closures, settlements or the West Bank Barrier. The ICRC provided materials such as greenhouse items, professional kits, livestock or material for the rehabilitation of boats.


Besides transporting medical goods into Gaza and giving essential assistance to hospitals in the area, the ICRC, working through the Ministry of Health, provided 18 general hospitals with 350 cubic metres of medical supplies during the month of October.

On the West Bank, in addition to its regular monitoring of hospitals, the ICRC evaluated infrastructure and medical equipment. The ICRC also participated in training aimed at raising awareness about the need for protection of medical staff and facilities in three governmental hospitals.

The ICRC continues to follow up regarding access for patients needing treatment outside Gaza.

Cooperation with the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the Magen David Adom (MDA) 

The ICRC participated in the Third Annual Partnership meeting organized by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), on 30 and 31 October. The event attracted representatives from various countries as well as UNICEF, ECHO, UNESCO and several local and international NGOs.

The ICRC delivered an address to the annual Conference of the International and National Friends of the Magen David Adom in Israel on 11 October. It also attended the unveiling of the new Emergency Medical Services (EMS) station in the Arab-Israeli community of Sakhnin, financed with contributions from friends of the MDA in the UK.

Raising awareness of the ICRC and international humanitarian law 

It is the responsibility of all those involved in armed conflict to respect international humanitarian law (IHL). The ICRC supports their efforts by raising awareness about IHL and about its role and activities.

In October, an IHL seminar took place at the Hebrew University, conducted by Prof. Antonio Cassese, who discussed the question of how to implement and enforce the rules of IHL with regard to the conduct of hostilities.

Dissemination and training sessions on IHL and First Aid were carried out in Gaza for militant groups from different factions. Other sessions on ICRC activities and the basic principles of IHL were carried out for members of NGOs, village councils, security forces and students as well as PRCS staff and volunteers in the West Bank and Gaza.