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ICRC activities in Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories: February 2008

24-04-2008 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.


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In the West Bank, the ICRC continued to follow up on the humanitarian consequences of the illegal routing of the West Bank Barrier within the Occupied Territories.

In Israel, the Occupied and Autonomous Territories, the ICRC regularly visits detainees falling under its mandate in order to monitor the conditions of their detention and their treatment. Its observations and recommendations are submitted confidentially to the authorities in charge.

 Promoting respect for the civilian population  

The ICRC intervened with the relevant authorities regarding the humanitarian consequences of the closure of the Gaza Strip. It raised the cases of patients who need to get medical treatment outside the Strip and addressed the difficulties to import essential goods and electricity into Gaza.

The ICRC continued to make representations to the Israeli authorities regarding the humanitarian consequences of the illegal routing of the West Bank Barrier within the Occupied Territories. The ICRC is particularly concerned about the difficulties that Palestinian farmers have in reaching their lands in the " seam zone " (the land located between the Green Line and the West Bank Barrier), as well as the problems faced by some of the isolated communities living there.

 Visits to detainees in Israeli places of detention  

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

 Visits to detainees in the Palestinian territories  

The ICRC's delegates visited prisons, police stations and other detention facilities managed by the Palestinian authorities in Ramallah, Jericho, Hebron, Qalqilia, Tubas, Salfit and the Gaza Strip.

 Family visits and messages to detainees  

The ICRC family visit programme enables families from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Occupied Golan to visit relatives held in Israeli places of detention. In February, more than 16,000 persons travelled to 27 Israeli places of detention and visited some 6,600 relatives in detention.

The Israeli authorities suspended the family visit programme for families from Gaza on 6 June 2007. 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 more than 3,000 messages between detainees and their relatives. The ICRC also 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  

In the West Bank and in Gaza, the ICRC provided food and other essential items to 15 families whose houses had been totally or partially destroyed by the Israeli Defence Forces.

 H2 assistance programme  

In the old city of Hebron (H2), the ICRC distributed about 3,300 food parcels, to more than 1,600 families especially affected by strict closures, and over 11,000 kg of wheat flour.

 Emergency assistance  

In the West Bank and in Gaza, the ICRC provided emergency assistance - 126 food parcels and 42 hygienic kits - to 32 needy families.

 Cash-for-work programme and livelihood support  

The ICRC also paid for 2,574 days of work in various infrastructure or agricultural projects across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


The ICRC, working through the Ministry of Health, provided 18 general hospitals with almost 17 tons of various medical supplies.

The ICRC continues to support the health sector in Gaza by transporting medical goods into the Strip and by providing urgent assistance to the hospitals. In February, the ICRC's delegates closely monitored the hospital's electricity and fuel supplies, as well as the treatment and care provided to the wounded and sick. Access for patients needing treatment outside Gaza is followed-up closely.

In the West Bank, the ICRC's delegates also monitored access of hospital staff to their places of work.

 Water and habitat  

The ICRC runs 12 projects in the West Bank. These comprise the construction of a new well, a pumping station, three water main lines and seven reservoirs, which will benefit more than 100,000 people.

In the Gaza Strip, the ICRC is launching the final phase of the construction of a waste-water evacuation system i n Khan Younis. The permanent pumping station, with an aeration system and an additional settling lagoon for the sewage evacuation and its partial treatment, will benefit about 150,000 people.

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

The ICRC participated in training sessions on international humanitarian law organized by the Palestine Red Crescent Society, including a three-day session for 32 officers of the Palestinian Authority Police.

In the Gaza Strip, the ICRC and the PRCS carried out a joint assessment of the humanitarian needs following an explosion at Al-Bureij camp. The ICRC also carried out a visit to the Magen David Adom in Dimona and Soroka hospitals in Beersheva following a suicide bombing on 4 February. 

Raising awareness about 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.

The delegation continued its regular presentations on the ICRC and basic principles of IHL to senior officers from the Civil Administration and to IDF officers of the Nablus brigade.

The ICRC also participated in a training seminar organized for the IDF missing in action (MIA) unit staff. The objective was to establish working procedures with the various organizations that deal with the issue of the Israeli MIA.

Other sessions on ICRC activities and the basic principles of IHL were carrie d out for students, members of women's centres, NGOs, medical staff and security forces as well as PRCS staff and volunteers in the West Bank and Gaza.