Red Cross calls for protection of medical staff in Gaza

PRCS/IFRC
The Red Crescent helps evacuate the wounded in Shuja’iyya on Sunday 20 July 2014.
Image: PRCS/IFRC

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) strongly condemns the shelling of the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza.

On Monday 21 July 2014, the hospital came under direct fire at least four times. The surgical ward, intensive care unit and pieces of life-saving equipment were all badly damaged.

– This incident is yet another example of the danger faced by medical personnel, patients, ambulances and hospitals in the current conflict in Gaza. Even in the midst of warfare, people must be able to receive medical care in safety, reports Christian Cardon, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza.

The ICRC has been working to get the sick and wounded to hospital in Gaza. On Sunday, they tried to negotiate a ceasefire in the area to allow the wounded to be taken to hospital without delay.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reminds all parties in the conflict of their obligation to protect medical staff and facilities. All parties must comply with international humanitarian law by respecting the neutrality represented by the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems, and provide protection for the people clearly identified by wearing those emblems.

Shelling causes water crisis

The continuous shelling of Gaza has caused serious damage to its water mains. Repair work to the infrastructure had to be suspended when several employees were killed as they worked to repair the damage.

– Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are now without water. Within days, the entire population of the Strip could be desperately short of water. Electricity services are also affected by the hostilities, said Jacques de Maio, head of the ICRC delegation in Israel and the occupied territories.

ICRC teams have been helping the authorities with essential repairs to the water and sewage infrastructure. The Red Cross and the Red Crescent are, among much else, involved in coordinating the recovery of vital infrastructure, such as protection for hospitals, transport, and evacuation procedures for civilians. All this work is done in dangerous conditions and at times the number of people in need of aid grows extremely high and draws heavily on the available resources.