[The following statement was issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross statement of Support with the People of Palestine in response to the ongoing genocide of Gaza perpetrated by the state of Israel.]
Amid the devastating violence – the premeditated killings of civilians, and the bombings in residential neighborhoods – a worrying sign is that few voices of de-escalation have been heard. Heightened war rhetoric, in our experience, leads to greater civilian suffering.
The ICRC, permanently present in Israel and the occupied territories since 1967, has long been witness to the devastating killing of civilians leading to further spirals of violence and hatred.
Without immediate restraint, we are heading for a humanitarian disaster.
“Civilians always pay the highest price in conflict. At this critical moment, we urge the parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to take every possible step to prevent civilians from further harm. All sides must exercise restraint and protect civilian lives and property.
Killing civilians and ill-treatment are prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. In addition, the Conventions demand that the wounded and sick are cared for. People detained must be treated humanely and with dignity. Hostage-taking is prohibited under international humanitarian law and hostages should be immediately released unharmed.
Critical infrastructure that people depend on to live – including electricity and water networks – must not be targeted. Irrespective of any military siege, the authorities must ensure that civilians have access to basic necessities, including safe water, food and medical care.
I’m extremely concerned about the suffering families who have lost contact with a loved one are now going through, a devastating situation.
We are ready to do everything we can to help, including in our role as a neutral intermediary. Humanitarian workers must be allowed free passage to assist those in need. Medical facilities and medical personnel must never be targeted.