Civilians have overwhelmingly borne the brunt of the hostilities in Gaza and Israel so far. Following the resumption of fighting, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) fears that the civilian population now faces increased suffering and urges the parties to the conflict to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties and harm.
“A very high number of civilians have been killed and maimed, including thousands of children. Homes, hospitals, and other infrastructure critical to the survival of the civilian population have suffered colossal destruction,” said Pascal Hundt, in charge of ICRC operations in Gaza. “Current conditions do not allow for a meaningful humanitarian response, and I fear will spell disaster for the civilian population.”
The rules of international humanitarian law are clear and must be applied by all parties to the armed conflict:
- Civilians, including humanitarian workers and medical personnel, must be protected and respected, and everything possible must be done to avoid or minimize civilian casualties.
- Everything possible must be done to avoid or minimize damage to civilian homes and infrastructure such as medical facilities, water and electricity plants.
- Access of civilians to basic necessities and to goods essential to their survival must be ensured.
- Rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need must be granted.
- All those deprived of liberty must be treated humanely .
- Hostages must be released.
The ICRC’s humanitarian action seen over the last week has allowed some humanitarian aid into Gaza and families separated due to conflict to be reunited. We stand ready to support further humanitarian initiatives and will continue to seek access to all persons deprived of liberty.