How the Red Cross was barred by Israel in Gaza to do its job

Iyad Nasr of the International Committee of the Red Cross describing what was happening during the three-week military assault by Israel on Gaza a year ago:

ICRC was not allowed to reach the victims. No place in Gaza was safe. Ambulances, ICRC, we could not move without a green light from the Israeli authorities. And even when we were given the green light, we were told, “You have to be careful. Things might happen. Explosions can happen.” What does it mean? What guarantee I am getting from a military operation, from operators of military activities without proper guarantees?

And most often also, people were asking for evacuation at the same time in large numbers. Hundreds of people were having the same scenario. It’s not an incursion into Beit Hanoun or Jabalia or Shouka in Gaza. It’s an incursion—it’s a military operation all over Gaza. How can any humanitarian organization respond to such large-scale operation while being limited, while being denied access? Most of the time these people wanted to leave.

Like in this neighborhood, if you go around, you will see that all the houses—there is no one single exception—sustained injuries, sustained a smoke, heavy smoke, or explosions or fire into their buildings. We could not bring fire brigades. We were not allowed to bring the fire brigades. We were not allowed to move with ambulances of the PRC’s to rescue people. And families, they were calling, “Evacuate us to a safer place.” But where to take them? Even if ICRC managed to reach to these people calling, to take them where? To which place? There was no place called safe in Gaza to move these people to.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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