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Middle East conflict 2006


  • A ceasefire began on 14 August 2006 ending five weeks of fierce fighting across the borders between Israel and Lebanon. The conflict was sparked by the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah on 12 July.
  • The British Red Cross launched an appeal on 21 July to help those affected by the humanitarian catastrophe, wherever they may be. The appeal closed after reaching £1.25 million, which supported the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. As an emergency response organisation, we were uniquely placed to respond to those who were most in need.
  • According to the Lebanese government 1,109 people, mainly civilians, were killed and 3,697 injured in Lebanon. In Israel, 116 soldiers were killed (Israeli Defence Force figures) and 43 civilians.
  • Almost a million people were displaced in Lebanon and 500,000 in Israel by the conflict. The vast majority returned home, many to find their homes uninhabitable. There were also many unexploded devices scattered in the streets, which claimed numerous lives. The Red Cross provided tens of thousands of people with shelter, food, water and medical supplies.
  • The Red Cross was one of the few organisations able to operate in Lebanon and help those in need. They transported 986 wounded people, as well as another 8,239 medical cases and collected 402 bodies.

The International Red Cross response

Staff place a 10 x 10 metre flag for identification on the aid supplies warehouse of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Tyre, South Lebanon at sunset in August 2006.

Lebanese Red Cross

Tragically, a Lebanese Red Cross volunteer, Mikhael Jbayleh was killed giving first aid to one of 32 people wounded after an Israeli air strike in Marjayoun on 11 August. Eight volunteers were wounded in the conflict. More than 5,000 staff and volunteers worked under life-threatening conditions.

Magen David Adom (National Society in Israel)

Magen David Adom spread a fleet of life-saving vehicles (750 standard ambulances and mobile intensive-care units) across the entire country. More than 80 volunteers assisted the return of elderly and incapacitated evacuees to their homes. Between 12 July and 14 August, Magen David Adom teams operated in 1,477 incidents and treated and evacuated 2,586 casualties, including assisting 214 severely and moderately injured people. The Magen David Adom also collected bodies and provided treatment for some 6,000 people from northern Israel sheltering in a tent camp south of Tel Aviv. During the conflict, Hizbollah rockets hit the Magen David Adom station in Safed; no casualties were reported.

An internally displaced Lebanese child looks on as Lebanese Red Cross youth volunteers carry hygiene kits into Beruit’s Mount Lebanon district in July 2006. The Lebanese Red Cross is visiting communities in Beirut to locate internally displaced persons and provide them with hygiene & medical kits.

Palestine Red Crescent

The Palestine Red Crescent branch in Lebanon helped evacuate the injured to hospitals. Two Palestine Red Crescent ambulances, for example, joined the Lebanese Red Cross to transport dead bodies in Qana, Lebanon. It donated blood bags to hospital in Tyre area of southern Lebanon. More than 200 people were killed in Gaza and the West Bank between 29 June and 14 August 2006.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates the Israeli army incursions have caused $15.5 million damage to Gaza’s infrastructure.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

By October 2006 the ICRC had assisted almost 260,000 people through the distribution of food, family parcels, blankets, tarpaulins and shelter. Despite the difficulties with ruined infrastructure, the ICRC delivered more than 60,000 litres of fuel for running hospitals and water pumps.

Vital drugs and medical equipment were delivered to ten medical facilities mainly in southern Lebanon. In co-operation with Lebanese Red Cross volunteers, an average of 40,000 litres of drinking water per day were distributed to displaced people in Beirut and its hinterland. It also shipped and airlifted thousands of tonnes of relief supplies.

An injured Israeli girl cries as she is taken to hospital after a rocket attack in Nahariya, north Israel, in July 2006. The Magen David Adom has been providing medical services for civilians affected by the hostilities in northern Israel since the start of the crisis.The ICRC accompanied water trucks into Gaza to distribute to those affected by water shortages. It also facilitated access by Palestine Red Crescent ambulances to parts of Shoka. The ICRC provided two months supply of medicines to the Lebanon branch of the Palestine Red Crescent. It also disseminated information about the dangers of unexploded devices.

The ICRC contacted Hizbollah with a view to gaining access to the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers in order to monitor their treatment and ensure they are allowed contact with their families.

The Department for International Development (DfID) contributed £1.95 million to the ICRC's Lebanon appeal through the British Red Cross.

International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

As the ICRC took the lead in conflict zones, the Federation focused its attention on the humanitarian needs of neighbouring countries and those providing assistance to refugees. The Federation assisted 65,000 people between October 2006 and January 2007.

An internally displaced woman receives a hygiene kit from a Lebanese Red Cross youth volunteer in the Mount Lebanon district in August 2006.

Syrian Arab Red Crescent

An estimated 160,000 Lebanese crossed in to Syria. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent assisted more than 65,000 people with food, hygiene kits, clothes and help in tracing relatives. Around 1,000 volunteers helped evacuees in Syria, including assistance at four reception and first aid centres on the Lebanese border, providing water, light meals and psychological support.

The British Red Cross response

The British Red Cross sent 227,000 ready-made meals to the most vulnerable people in Lebanon, which were made and transported from Britain. Two British Red Cross logisticians supported the ICRC operation in Cyprus, running a warehouse in Larnaca, and transporting relief by ship between Cyprus and Lebanon. A third logistician worked with the Federation in Damascus, Syria, to co-ordinate relief operations there.

The Middle East Crisis Appeal supported the work of the ICRC, Federation and sister societies in the region. At the start of the crisis, we sent 13 support workers to Cyprus to provide support for Britons evacuated from Lebanon at the request of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, which is responsible for providing consular assistance to Britons overseas. The British Red Cross has trained people on standby to offer practical help and emotional support to people affected by tragedies overseas.

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