Appeal for access to sick and injured in Palestine

Published: 3 April 2002 0:00 CET

The President of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), Mr. Younis Al-Khatib, was released from detention yesterday along with eight of his staff, by the Israeli Defence Forces, following a day-long campaign by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

President Al-Khatib was detained along with three ambulance crews as they responded to urgent medical calls early yesterday morning in Ramallah. PRCS ambulance services in Ramallah were suspended as a result.

The International Federation has thanked all those National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies who responded to an appeal made yesterday morning for them to make representations to Israeli embassies and missions for the release of the detainees.

The International Federation and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have jointly issued a solemn appeal which regrets "the frequent and often serious instances in which medical personnel were prevented from performing their life
saving duties. The most basic humantiarian pre-condition in a situation of violence, is that all medical staff and volunteers be allowed to function unmolested.

"Much remains to be done in virtually all humanitarian domains - medical, livelihood of the civilian populations, protection of non combatants and of arrested persons... - yet ICRC delegates were regrettably prevented from working because of a sudden degradation of the usual lines of communication between themselves and the Israeli authorities.

"Currently, the ICRC is urgently seeking access to all those who have been arrested.
"The ICRC and the International Federation expect to see a rapid improvement in communications, and a subsequent improvement in working relationships, so that vital humanitarian assistance can reach the Palestinian population.

"In this context, the ICRC urgently and solemnly appeals to all those employing armed force to respect international humanitarian law, and in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian persons in Time of War of 1949 and the rules governing the conduct of hostilities."

The International Federation will continue to provide support and assistance to the PRCS as it strives to carry out its humanitarian mission to the vulnerable in Palestine.