ICRC activities in Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories: September 2007
24-10-2007 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 - Contains link to Hebrew version.
Promoting respect for the civilian population
The ICRC continued to draw the attention of 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. It expressed particular concern over the difficulties of 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 raised the issue - with the proper authorities - of the Israeli settlements in the Southern Hebron district and the problems associated with them, such as settler violence and its consequences.
The house demolitions on the West Bank that are continuing, and their humanitarian consequences, were other matters that the ICRC took up with Israeli authorities.
Monitoring conditions of detention
In Israel, the Occupied and Autonomous territories, the ICRC regularly visits detainees in order to monitor their conditions of detention and the treatment they receive. When the ICRC submits its observations and recommendations to the authorities in charge, it does so in confidence.
Detainees visited in Israeli places of detention
In September, the ICRC visited 20 Israeli places of detention. This included provisional detention centres, police stations and prisons as well as 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, Jenin, Salfit, Qalqilia, Tubas and Gaza.
Family visits and messages to detainees
The ICRC's family visit programme enables families from Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan to visit relatives held in Israeli places of detention. In September, more than 12,400 persons travelled to 27 Israeli places of detention and visited about 5,400 relatives in detention.
The Israeli authorities suspended the family visit programme, for families from Gaza, on 6 June. The suspension remains in effect and about 900 detainees from Gaza being held in Israeli prisons are affected.
Besides family visits, exchanging Red Cross messages enables families to remain in touch with relatives in detention: the ICRC passed about 1,600 messages 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.
ICRC activities in the occupied Golan
In September, the ICRC, acting as a neutral intermediary between Israeli and Syrian authorities, facilitated the arrangements for a wedding ceremony: the bride was from the occ upied Golan and the groom from Syria proper. After the ceremony in the demilitarized zone, attended by approximately twenty family guests, the bride crossed to Damascus to be with her husband.
In addition, the ICRC facilitated the crossing through Kuneitra of 500 Druze pilgrims on their way to the annual religious ceremony in Syria, and the return to Damascus of 261 university students who had spent the summer vacation at their homes in the occupied Golan. The ICRC also arranged for 36 new students to cross to Damascus to begin their studies, for 18 Golanese students from Damascus to return home after the end of their studies, and for two families to visit Syria to pay their condolences to bereaved relatives.
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 tents when required to 19 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 food parcels to more than 1,700 families particularly affected by strict closures and an extra 10 kg of wheat flour each to almost 1,200 vulnerable families.
On the West Bank and in Gaza, the ICRC provided emergency assistance - 137 food parcels, 3 hygiene kits and 3870 kg of wheat flour - to 128 needy families.
Cash for work programme and livelihood support
The ICRC also paid for 7,005 days of work on various infrastructural or agricultural projects throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
ICRC livelihood support programmes have allowed 138 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 140 cubic metres of medical supplies during the month of September.
On the West Bank, in addition to its regular monitoring of hospitals, the ICRC evaluated spare parts for medical equipment.
The ICRC facilitated the transport of two 4x4 (all-terrain) ambulances to Gaza; they had been donated to the PRCS by the Norwegian Red Cross.
The ICRC participated in the MDA's Third International Youth Exchange, which took place in Zikhron Ya'akov and ended on 7 September. The 10-day event attracted 35 youth delegates from various countries.
The MDA Red Cross Cooperation Coordinator led a three-person team to the site of the recent plane crash in Phuket in Thailand. The MDA, who were working together with teams of other Israelis (forensic police and ZAKA) and with Thais, tended to the needs of the survivors and of the families of those who perished.
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 own role and activities.
In September, the delegation continued its regular presentations, on the ICRC and the basic principles of IHL, to IDF checkpoint commanders, soldiers in the Military Police West Bank Barrier passages unit, border guards, Magen David Adom Youth Exchange Program participants and participants in the national IHL competition in Israel.
Presentations on the ICRC’s activities and the basic principles of IHL were made to members of non-governmental organizations, village councils and students as well as for PRCS staff and volunteers on the West Bank and in Gaza.