During an official visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, held high level talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Simon Peres, and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. During these talks, he focused on the need for a new balance to be found between Israel’s security concerns and the impact of occupation on the lives of Palestinians.
The ICRC President spent time seeing how civilians in both Israel and the Occupied Territories are living. In the village of Qunbar, east Jerusalem, the President saw how the routing of the West Bank barrier has left a community isolated, cut off from sources of education, employment and health care and struggling to stay in touch with friends and family.
The President also saw the suffering caused by years of closure of the Gaza strip with limits on what can be imported and who can enter or leave. He saw the water and health projects that the ICRC runs to ease the impact of these difficult living conditions.
In Israel, the President also met staff at the Magen David Adom ambulance centre in the southern city of Sderot, to hear about how they operate an emergency service caring for civilians during hostilities with the nearby Gaza Strip.
While the President acknowledges Israel's right to ensure the security of its population and its territory, he stated: “We see in many of the practices of the Israeli government, security concerns being an overwhelming argument that causes immense suffering on the Palestinian population." Maurer identified the suffering as neither proportional nor reasonable in relation to Israel's security concern, adding: "It doesn’t produce the result expected. It only produces suffering.”
The President also expresses concern for the humanitarian conditions of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. During an address to academics and lawyers at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, the President spoke of how international humanitarian law applies to Israel’s occupation of land it captured in 1967. This includes the right of detainees to visits from their families. During his trip, President Maurer visited Gaza, met families of detainees held in Israeli jails in Gaza.
The ICRC also maintains dialogue on compliance with IHL and other international standards with the Palestinian Authority, the Gaza authorities and Palestinian armed groups whose indiscriminate rocket attacks launched from Gaza into civilian areas in Israel provoke fear among the population.
Facts and Figures
In 2012, the ICRC:
Format: HD Mov
Producer: Sean Maguire
Camera: Walid Kamar, Shadow Pro and Andrea Micelli
ICRC ref: AV095N
Copyright: ICRC access all
3 July 2013 Qunbar, Jerusalem
0:00 Various West Bank Barrier
0:17 ICRC cars
0:23 Various of President with Qunbar residents
2 July, Sderot, Israel
0: 49 ICRC President at MDA ambulance centre
3 July, Hebrew University,Jerusalem
1:15 ICRC President addressing audience
1:27 SOUNDBITE, ICRC President Peter Maurer
“I think we see in many of the practices of the Israeli government, security concerns being an overwhelming argument that causes immense suffering on the Palestinian population. And I think this suffering is neither proportional nor reasonable in terms of the original security concern of the Israeli government. It doesn’t produce the result expected. It only produces the suffering on the other hand.”
2:07 SOUNDBITE, ICRC President Peter Maurer
“So we do need another effort of rebalancing and giving more weight to the humanitarian interests of civilian populations but also to the humanitarian interest of detainees in prisons.”
2:28 ICRC cars
2nd July, Gaza
2:37 ICRC President with Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
2:45 ICRC orthopaedic work
2:55 ICRC President with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
3 July, Ramallah, West Bank
3:20 ICRC cars
3:26 President meeting families of detainees