Israel / Palestine conflict: our response so far 

This article was last updated on 11 January, 2024

As the escalation of hostilities in Israel and Palestine enters its ­­fourth ­­month, the conflict continues to take the lives of civilians, disrupt the delivery of life-saving medical care, interrupt critical services that people rely on to survive, and leave families grieving the loss of loved ones. 

The IFRC has called on all parties for humanitarian access across Gaza and West Bank, the release of hostages, the protection of civilians, hospitals and humanitarian workers from indiscriminate attack and compliance with international humanitarian law.

Among those killed have been humanitarian aid and health workers who lost their lives while trying to save others, as well as people seeking safety and care at health facilities.

IFRC and National Society response

Meanwhile, IFRC member National Societies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories continue to respond to urgent humanitarian needs and to provide life-saving assistance and other essential services. The IFRC, meanwhile, is supporting its National Societies Magen David Adom in Israel and the Palestinian Red Crescent in their on-going, live-saving work.


Magen David Adom in Israel (MDA) has been supporting affected communities since the beginning, with ambulance and medical services on call 24/7. Staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly, putting their lives and well-being in harm's way to tend to the wounded and deceased. A total of 1,500 ambulances and 10,000 first responders (EMTs and paramedics) have been mobilized. Since 7 October, they have treated over 4,000 patients.

These staff members and volunteers have been working under difficult and dangerous circumstances. Tragically, several volunteers and staff have died in line of duty, killed while treating patients. Several others also suffered major or minor injuries while on duty. Ambulances have also come under attack at various times during the hostilities.

The MDA has also supported the Ministry of Health in the transfer of patients and the evacuation of bed-ridden people close to the border. MDA is also helping communities prepare in case of further escalation.  For example, the National Society offers free, first-aid training focusing on trauma care. It has also gathered, tested and processed over 50,000 units of blood to supply ambulances, mobile intensive care units, hospitals and clinics.  


As the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip continues to worsen, Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) teams are working around the clock in extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances. Already, several PRCS volunteers have been killed in the escalating violence. Most recently, on 10 January 2024, four PRCS ambulance crew members were killed along with two patients when their ambulance was hit.

Earlier in January, continuous shelling near the Al-Amal Hospital and PRCS headquarters in Khan Yunis also resulted in several casualties, including a 5-day old baby, and displaced thousands who were seeking refuge at the hospital. Read the IFRC’s statement condemining the attacks here.

In the meantime, the combination of shelling around health care facilities — along with a lack of supplies and fuel, power and communications outages, damage to infrastructure and mounting demand — is pushing Gaza’s severely damaged health services to the brink of collapse. For the people of Gaza, there are also drastic shortages of critical basic necessities, such as fuel, water, food and medical supplies. 

These shortages have also pushed PRCS Emergency Medical Service (EMS) centers to their limits. By late December, two PRCS EMS centers in Gaza and Northern Gaza were out of service, unable to provide emergency response and rescue services due to fuel shortages and restricted access. Hospitals in the North are also non-functional, making humanitarian evacuations impossible.

The IFRC commends the bravery of PRCS volunteers and paramedics, many of whom have lost family members or been detained, yet continue to respond selflessly.

Life-saving care continues

Despite the challenges, PRCS has continued to provide critical, life-saving care. In the Gaza Strip, the PRCS has provided emergency medical care to ­­­roughly 15,000 injured people as of 5 January, 2024. PRCS ambulance crews have also responded following the deaths of more than 5,000 people killed due to the conflict.

This life-saving work is being done in the face of regular power and communications blackouts as well as the extreme danger posed by the on-going conflict. Since the beginning of hostilities, PRCS teams have reported shelling very close to their hospitals, ambulance center, main warehouse, and headquarters causing injuries, damaging the buildings and restricting access to the hospitals.

Meanwhile, PRCS staff have also distributed relief items to internally displaced families in temporary shelters and at their hospitals. Aid items include food parcels, milk, blankets, mattresses, water as well as some hygiene kits, kitchen sets, and baby necessities. 

In the West Bank, PRCS has provided emergency medical care to more than 3,700 injured people. Ambulance crews have also transported more than 115 people killed in the fighting.

Aid delivery to Gaza so far

As of December 31, 2023, more than 5,200 trucks containing medical supplies, food, water and hygiene products were delivered to Gaza and distributed by PRCS and UNRWA. Notably, more than 300 truckloads of humanitarian aid entered North Gaza during a humanitarian pause, while 81 ambulances were also distributed.

Following an earlier blockage on all fuel imports, fuel and cooking gas has also been supplied to Gaza, however it still falls far short of what is needed for daily life, basic services and humanitarian response.

The Egyptian Red Crescent (ERCS) is at the forefront of the humanitarian response in Gaza, with support from over 39 countries and UN agencies. ERCS volunteers work tirelessly in shifts to ensure that aid is sorted and repackaged for entry into Gaza.

In collaboration with PRCS, ERCS is also helping to establish a camp in Al-Mawasi, Khan Younis, to house displaced people. Additionally, the Qatari Red Crescent is working with PRCS to set up a field hospital in Rafah that will include 50 beds, an ICU, and an operating room.

But the aid that has been received is only a drop in the ocean considering the immense needs of Gaza’s two million people.

Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt

In view of the scale of likely needs and in order to complement the PRCS’s response efforts outlined in their appeal, the IFRC will enhance the capacities to respond through an Emergency Appeal by coordinating the response in neighbouring countries to the occupied Palestine Territories.

The IFRC will be supporting – in close coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - the response of its membership, as significant humanitarian actors in their own geographies, and strengthen their organizational capacities.

The IFRC also launched this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC and its membership seek CHF 30 million (CHF 20 million of which is expected to be raised by the IFRC Secretariat) to support the Lebanese Red Cross, Egyptian Red Crescent, Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Jordanian Red Crescent in preparing and strengthening their response readiness to the potential escalation of hostilities in the region and subsequent humanitarian needs.

On 13, October, the IFRC also allocated CHF 1 million from its Disaster Emergency Relief Fund to support a wide range of humanitarian assistance in the occupied Palestinian territories impacted by the hostilities.

The highest price

Since the escalation of hostilities began on 7 October, the IFRC has decried the fact that civilians are paying the “highest price” in the hostilities and has called on all parties to allow humanitarian organizations to safely access and support people impacted by the crisis.  

In a joint statement on 14 October, IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain and ICRC Director General Robert Mardini said they were “appalled to see the human misery that has unfolded” and that “civilians - including women and children, the elderly, and the wounded and sick - are currently paying the highest price.”

“Human suffering is happening on all sides,” the statement said. “And it is always devastating. The death of a son or daughter, a sibling, a parent, is a human tragedy no matter where it happens or who it happens to. Civilian life must be protected on all sides.”

The IFRC governing board, which includes National Society leaders from all parts of the globe, also expressed its shock and horror at the “growing humanitarian needs and the mounting loss of life” in a special statement released on 20 October.

“This situation underscores the critical importance of access to all civilians, including those held hostage,” the statement continued.   

Since that time, the IFRC has continued to raise the alarm about an increasingly dire situation. In early November, the IFRC called for “safe and unhindered access across the Gaza Strip and the release of hostages” and most recently, the IFRC released a statement on 5 January 2024 condemning the continuous shelling near the Al-Amal Hospital and PRCS headquarters in Khan Yunis that led to “the loss of innocent civilian lives.”

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@elsharkawi - IFRC MENA Regional Director, Hossam Elsharkawi


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