23-08-2007  Operational update   
Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories: ICRC activities July 2007

In Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) works towards ensuring the faithful application of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and above all the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in times of armed conflict and occupation.


Promoting respect for the civilian population 

The ICRC started preliminary discussions with the Israeli authorities in order to ensure a smooth and efficient management of the 2007 olive harvest. Olives constitute a strategic economic asset for most Palestinian farmers. Of pivotal importance to the ICRC is the access of farmers to their lands located between the West Bank Barrier and the Green Line, as well as near or inside settlements. The ICRC has been following the issue of access to land throughout the year and will monitor the olive harvest and present its findings to the Israeli authorities.

The ICRC continued to monitor the situation stemming from the presence of Israeli settlements and outposts in the southern Hebron hills. Of particular relevance during the month of July was the dismantlement by the IDF of a "mini-wall" flanking the main road, following a ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice. The ICRC had addressed orally and in writing the restrictions of movement associated with the barrier for the past months with the relevant Israeli authorities. It continues to deal with other problems in the area such as settler violence.

In Gaza, ICRC delegates continue to monitor the sporadic incursions and aerial attacks conducted by the IDF and report their findings to the Israeli authorities.

Monitoring conditions of detention 

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

Detainees visited in Israeli places of detention 

In July, the ICRC visited 20 Israeli places of detention, including provisional detention centres, police stations and prisons as well as the 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 Authority in Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, Jericho, Qalqilia, Nablus, Jenin, Salfit and the Gaza Strip.

Family visits and messages to detainees

The ICRC's family visit programme allows families from Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Occupied Golan to visit relatives held in Israeli places of detention.

In July, 15,707 persons travelled to 27 Israeli places of detention and visited 6,256 relatives in detention.

The Israeli authorities suspended the ICRC Family Visit Programme from Gaza on June 6 and the programme remains suspended, affecting some 900 detainees from Gaza held in Israeli prisons.

Another way of maintaining family links while people are detained is to exchange Red Cross Messages (RCM): 1,486 messages with family news were exchanged through the ICRC between detainees and their relatives.

The ICRC made several hundred phone calls to family members to inform them of the whereabouts and welfare of detained relatives.


House destruction relief programme
In the West Bank and Gaza the ICRC provided mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, food parcels and other essential items including tents when required to 9 families whose houses were totally or partially destroyed by the IDF.

Hebron (H2) assistance programme 

In the old city of Hebron (H2), the ICRC distributed 3,460 food parcels to 1,730 families particularly affected by strict closures as well as over 10 kg of extra wheat flour per family for 1,173 vulnerable families.

Emergency assistance

It has provided close to 30 food parcels, 5 hygienic kits, 10 tents, 12 kitchen sets, 20 chairs and other items to 47 needy families in the West Bank and Gaza.

Livelihood support and cash for work programme 
The ICRC also paid for 9,439 days of work on various infrastructure or agricultural projects across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Livelihood support programmes allowed 29 households to develop new ways of generating income despite restrictions on movement imposed by closures, settlements or the West Bank Barrier. The ICRC assistance generally includes materials such as greenhouse items, professional kits, livestock or material for the rehabilitation of boats.

Water and Habitat assistance 

The ICRC is carrying out rehabilitation works in three medical facilities following damage caused by the internal clashes in Gaza. It facilitated at various stages customs clearance and importation into Gaza of essential equipment and spare parts for water and waste water facilities.

In Gaza, the ICRC is running a project involving the development of water supply systems, benefiting 12,000 people in one community.

In the West Bank, the ICRC completed four projects (24,000 beneficiaries). It is finalizing the tenders for four projects (34,000 beneficiaries) and has launched additional three projects (12,000 beneficiaries) involving the development or rehabilitation of water supply systems in nine communities.


Emergency hospital support 

During the fighting in May and June, the ICRC responded by negotiating safe passage for wounded people and staff to hospitals and by supporting hospitals in Gaza to cope with the influx of weapon wounded. Priorities included providing emergency drugs, equipment and spare parts, surgical instrument sets; ensuring basic infrastructure (water, electricity, food, laundry and basic hygiene); The ICRC transported medical goods into Gaza; and mobilized a surgical team, which assessed 212 weapon wounded patients. Prosthetic and physical therapy assessment is being carried out by two ICRC delegates. Additionally, the ICRC as a neutral intermediary, negotiated with all parties to resume the transfer of the injured and the sick out of Gaza through Erez. From 19 June up until the end of July, the ICRC facilitated 756 patient transfers.

Regular hospital support 

Through the Ministry of Health Central Medical Stores, ICRC provided 18 general hospitals with 169 cubic metres of medical supplies during the month of July.

Hospital monitoring 

In the West Bank, regular hospital monitoring continued with a specific focus on patient access to hospital care. In Gaza the hospital visits were focusing on monitoring, identifying and responding to emergency needs.

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

In July, the MDA completed a multi-casualty event (MCE) training course for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) youth volunteers. The ICRC participated in the closing ceremony held in an outside theatre, with about 800 youths, parents and friends

The ICRC participated in the first of two Advanced Medical Post (AMP) trainings organized by the PRCS in Bethlehem from 30 June to 3 August. Designed to hone the skills of Emergency Medical Teams (EMT) and other PRCS volunteers involved in responding to mass casualty incidents, this training included a simulated explosion in the streets of Bethlehem with the coordinated participation of the Civil Defence, Police and Military Medical Services.

Close cooperation continues with the MDA, and Ashkelon Emergency Medical Services station in particular, in relation to the coordination of emergency patient transfers from the Erez crossing (Gaza) to hospitals in Israel.

The ICRC continued to support the MDA train its future humanitarian "leaders in the community".

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.

In July, presentations on the ICRC and basic principles of IHL were given to Israeli Prison Service (IPS) senior commanders, the IPS Nachshon Unit in charge of transfer of detainees, IDF checkpoint commanders and an IDF operational company operating in Jenin.
IHL books & publications were donated to the libraries of five Israeli academic institutions.

On the Palestinian side, dissemination sessions on ICRC activities and the basic principles of IHL were carried out for members of women's centres, NGOs, village councils and students as well as PRCS staff and volunteers in the West Bank and Gaza.