The International Committee of the Red Cross on Sunday urged UN Security Council members to “exert maximum influence to stop the hostilities between Gaza and Israel.”
“The populations in Gaza and Israel are facing the most intense cycle of hostility in years,” the ICRC warned in a press release published just hours before a virtual meeting at which Council members are scheduled to discuss the violence.
“We call on all parties involved to proactively protect civilians, de-escalate and allow us to help people. It is time for us to step up our response substantially,” it said, urging “the parties to end this escalation and to ensure better access to people affected in the Gaza strip.”
On Saturday, Egypt opened its land border with Gaza and sent 10 ambulances into the Palestinian enclave to evacuate and treat people wounded in the Israeli bombardments. Both Egypt and Israel have been imposing a blockade on the Palestinian enclave.
Gaza has been ruled by Hamas since 2006. Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by the EU and the international community.
“The intensity of the conflict is something we’ve not seen before, with non-stop airstrikes in densely populated Gaza and rockets reaching big cities in Israel,” ICRC director-general Robert Mardini said. “As a result, children are dying on both sides.”
Mardini stressed that for people in Gaza, access to hospitals and other vital infrastructure was “very complicated because of the incessant airstrikes and major damage to roads and buildings.”
“Actors on the ground must stop this cycle of violence,” he stressed. “The rules are crystal clear: civilians must be protected at all times. Sadly, that is not the case today.”
The ICRC noted further that the incessant bombings prevented it and other organisations from providing humanitarian assistance in Gaza. It said it was communicating with both parties on the need to comply with the rules of international humanitarian law.
The Committee also disclosed that it had donated stretchers, hospital beds and medical equipment for treating 150 seriously wounded persons in Gaza and that it had visited victims of rocket fire in the centre of Israel.