Arabic News, 3/23/2001
In a report circulated by its office
in Damascus, the
International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC announces that the
UCRC in Gaza has started on March 14, 2001, distributing non-food
assistance to 117 families whose homes have been destroyed by the
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the Gaza Strip since October
The House Destruction Relief program,
which until now was
provided on an ad-hoc basis, is now being intensified and
systematized to provide the homeless families with tents,
blankets and other essential house-hold goods. The Distribution
will go on throughout the month in different locations.
Furthermore, the ICRC regrets that its Humanitarian efforts
being hampered by constraints and obstacles. The ICRC insists
that Humanitarian goods, while not exempt from security checks,
should nonetheless be delivered speedily and appropriately.
On 26 February 2001, the International Committee of the red Cross
(ICRC) in Tel Aviv had already expressed its concern about the
situation of the families living in areas completely, or near
completely, blocked by Israeli Defense Forces security cordons.
Over the past months, as it has been amply reported in the press,
the economic conditions of many people living in closed villages
has deteriorated considerably, essentially through loss of
earnings. There have also been incidents where vital medical
assistance was denied, or delayed, thereby causing serious
aggravations of individual medical conditions.
The ICRC views the policy of isolating whole villages
extended period as contrary to International Humanitarian law
(IHL) particularly with respect to those aspects of IHL, which
protect civilians in times of occupation. Indeed, stringent
closures frequently lead to breaches of Article 55 (free passage
of medical assistance and foodstuffs), Article 33 (prohibition of
collective punishment), Article 50 (children and education),
Article 56 (movement of medical transportation and public health
facilities) and Article 72 (access to lawyers for persons
charged) of the Fourth Geneva Conventions.
Furthermore, these security measures must allow
for a quick
return to normal civilian life. This, in essence, is the meaning
of the fourth Geneva Convention which is applicable to the
Confronted with this situation, the ICRC
is implementing a
"Closure relief Program( CRP) which plans to assist some 35,000
people in sixty West bank" closed villages. The purpose of this
program is twofold: at a primary level, the assistance provided
by the ICRC is to give some form of economic support to people
whose income is badly affected by the Israeli Defense Force's
"closures" policy. The relief packages include blankets, sugar,
tea, washing powder, and an assortment of personal hygiene items.
More importantly, the ICRC is using the deliveries of relief
strengthen its civilian population protection activities by re-
asserting the meaning and scope of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
By seeking access to vulnerable populations, the ICRC is
highlighting both their plight and the responsibilities of those
hose duty is to protect them.
Through the implementation of its Closure relief
alongside its more traditional forms of activities and
representations, the ICRC seeks to see the resumption of normal
life for the concerned villagers as soon as possible.
The CRP will target five villages each week for the rest of
The criteria used by the ICRC to select
the Closure Relief
program - targeted villages include the number of socially
vulnerable people and the prevailing level of unemployment and
the number of days the village was "closed" or "curfewed ."
The ICRC reiterates that the destruction of private property
occupied territories, which includes houses and agricultural
infrastructures, is prohibited.
The International committee of the Red Cross, operating
area for the past 34 years by virtue of the mandate entrusted to
it in the Geneva Conventions, will continue to do its utmost to
assist and protect the victims in accordance with the principles
that govern its neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian