Red Cross calls for respect for humanitarian law in Gaza
- Published on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:00
In a report published on 19 August 2014, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated that its work has been hindered in Gaza by a climate “in which the rules and principles of humanitarian law are not effectively upheld and in which there is a lack of respect for humanitarian action.”
ICRC president, Peter Mauer, was in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel from 5 to 7 August. Speaking of the time he spent in Gaza where he witnessed the destruction, Mauer said "This conflict has taken an unacceptable toll on the civilian population.”
The ICRC report highlights the statistics of the conflict. In just 37 days of fighting, around 1,900 people have been killed in Gaza, more than half of those thought to be civilians. Additionally, 10,000 have been wounded. Meanwhile in Israel, 67 have died, three of them being civilians.
Concerning displaced persons, the report highlights the difference in magnitude of the two sides, “While life in Israel's southern communities has been disrupted by daily rocket fire, as many as 400,000 people have been displaced inside war-stricken Gaza, where literally no place remained safe during the hostilities in the densely populated coastal enclave.”
“More than 16,000 homes have been rendered uninhabitable – many reduced to rubble. More than half of the victims are estimated to be civilians, and as many as 25 per cent are children. The most vulnerable – children, the elderly, the sick and the wounded – have paid the highest price,” the report said.
Daily life and basic services have also suffered in Gaza. There have been disruptions to power, water, and sewage, the report said. Now nearly 4 in 5 homes in Gaza have no electricity and now most of the population relies on truck deliveries for water, which are often irregular and from dwindling supplies.
Regarding Israel, the report says, “thousands of rockets have caused three deaths, 77 injuries, damage to civilian property in the south of the country and constant stress for the people living there. Several areas adjacent to Gaza have been evacuated.”
The report calls for humanitarian law to be respected in the region for it to be able to carry out its work. Also highlighted in the report are the things the Red Cross has already accomplished in the region in the areas of health, water and sanitation, relief, work with the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom, and activities for civilians and detainees.
On the social situation and consequences of the war, the report states “It's all too easy to forget that every single person who becomes a casualty statistic is a human being, with loved ones who are distressed, worried or embittered by what has happened. Thousands of damaged or destroyed homes represent the loss of a lifetime of hard work and effort for as many families. People continue to live in constant fear of a violent death.”