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Joint Statement from Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC and Robert Mardini, Director General of the ICRC, on the escalation of hostilities in Israel and Gaza

   

Geneva – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is appalled to see the human misery that has unfolded over the last week in Israel and Gaza. Civilians – including women and children, the elderly, and the wounded and sick – are currently paying the highest price.

Nothing can justify the horrific loss of civilian lives in Israel last weekend. Our hearts go out to people who lost family members or are anxiously awaiting news about their missing loved ones, which they should receive without delay. But such tragedy cannot in turn justify the limitless destruction of Gaza.

We are deeply alarmed by the call for relocation in Gaza. Our volunteers refuse to leave and abandon those who need them most. They must be protected so that they can protect others.

Human suffering is happening on all sides. And it is always devastating. The death of a son or daughter, a sibling, a parent, is a human tragedy no matter where it happens or who it happens to. Civilian life must be protected on all sides.

In international humanitarian law – the law of armed conflict – there is no hierarchy in pain and suffering. These rules exist to help preserve humanity in the darkest moments, and they desperately need to be followed today. They are and should remain our compass to ensure that we put humanity first.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society and The Magen David Adom in Israel have been working around the clock to provide critical assistance, including ambulance and health services, to those affected. Their staff and volunteers are risking their lives every day to save others. Just this week, we have lost colleagues from both National Societies, who were killed in the line of duty, carrying out life-saving humanitarian work. This is a tragic reminder of the dangers humanitarian and medical workers face and we offer our deepest condolences to their families, friends and colleagues. We reiterate our call that humanitarian workers must be protected.

The Movement is committed to continuing to provide protection and life-saving relief to the people suffering the horrors of the ongoing violence. To do so, our teams need to be able to operate safely. Humanitarian organizations must be given the access to do their work to alleviate the growing human suffering.

The needs are staggering and will only continue to increase if the hostilities persist. We call on all parties to exercise restraint, to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, and to protect civilians – which must remain at the core of everything we do.