accessibility & help

Civilians suffer as conflict in Gaza intensifies

6 January 2009

Mother and child sit amidst rubbleReuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, courtesy www.alertnet.orgAs air strikes and ground fighting in Gaza intensify, casualties continue to arrive in hospitals where the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is providing medical supplies and treatment. The firing of rockets from Gaza at towns in southern Israel is also causing suffering among the civilian population there.

The British Red Cross has donated £75,000 from its Disaster Fund to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

Moira Reddick, British Red Cross head of disaster management, said: “We are worried about the increasing number of civilian casualties and civilian buildings, including hospitals, damaged in the fighting. Key facilities in Gaza, such as hospitals, water systems and sewerage installations were already in a precarious state because of the closures and import restrictions imposed by Israel over the past 18 months."

With a number of water supply lines severed during bombardments, families in parts of the Gaza Strip are finding it difficult to get safe drinking water.

Surgical support

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is planning to bring two generators into Gaza for use at hospitals, plus further medical items, including hygiene kits and surgical material. Security permitting, ICRC staff will visit various hospitals in the coming days to assess their needs and a war-surgery team will be helping surgeons at Shifa Hospital to treat complicated injuries. More than 450 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and over 2,300 wounded, including children.

"We are seriously concerned about the reports we are receiving," said Pierre Wettach, the ICRC's head of delegation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. "The safety of civilians is our primary concern in this conflict and we are calling on all parties to spare the lives of those who are not directly participating in hostilities."

Red Cross response

Many Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in the region are already responding to the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is providing emergency care in the Gaza Strip. It is evacuating the wounded, administering first aid, taking casualties to hospital, and providing care at PRCS hospitals. Hundreds of citizens are donating blood at the PRCS headquarters in Ramallah. However, military operations have prevented Palestine Red Crescent ambulance staff responding to many calls.

The Magen David Adom (National Society of Israel) is continuing to provide medical services in southern Israel to people affected by the rockets launched from Gaza. It reports that over the last nine days, four people have been killed in southern Israel and 60 injured, four of them seriously.

National Societies from Egypt, Iran, Saudi, and Qatar are supporting the Movement response with emergency food and medical supplies, including medical teams and ambulances.

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