ICRC: Israel Traps Gazans in Deprivation and Despair - by Stephen Lendman
Founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross is an "impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance." It also tries "to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles."
It's legally mandatd to do it under the 1949 Geneva Conventions and has had a permanent presence in Gaza since 1968. Currently 109 ICRC staff work there, including 19 expatriates. They remained throughout Operation Cast Lead and witnessed firsthand the carnage and destruction that took place.
Cooperatively with the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), they evacuated hundreds of people, some severely wounded in the conflict. As able, they also repaired power and water supply lines and provided hospitals with vital medicines and supplies. In addition, ICRC surgeons performed operations in Gaza's Shifa Hospital working alongside Palestinian doctors.
Post-conflict, ICRC and PRCS collected information on Israeli violations of international humanitarian laws. They also distributed vital items, including plastic sheeting, cooking sets, mattresses, blankets, hygiene kits, and more to over 72,000 Gazans whose homes were partially or totally destroyed.
ICRC is currently providing eight hospitals with medicines, other medical supplies, equipment, spare parts, and is helping with needed repairs. It's also fitting amputees with artificial limbs and offering needed physiotherapy.
It's helping to upgrade water and sanitation services to keep Gaza's water network running as best it can. It's aiding farmers and others with land rehabilitation, compost production, and "cash-for-work." It promotes international humanitarian law and calls on all sides to observe it.
In June 2009, it issued a report titled, "Gaza: 1.5 million people trapped in despair" that described the Territory as "look(ing) like the epicentre of a massive earthquake" in the wake of Operation Cast Lead and went on to detail how severely.