The dramatic escalation of hostilities in Israel and Gaza has left millions of people living in fear, interrupted critical relief services, and left families grieving over tragic loss. From the start of this heartbreaking conflict, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams have worked to help those who need it most. Staff and volunteers in Israel and Gaza are providing life-saving aid and emergency services, supporting reunification for families of those held hostage or detained, and working to restore essential services in the most impacted areas.
Delivering relief amid conflict
Throughout the region, the needs are great, and the suffering is immense. Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's national society, has mobilized 1,500 ambulances, and staff and volunteers are tirelessly tending to the wounded and deceased. Teams are supporting health authorities by collecting and distributing tens of thousands of units of blood and evacuating the sickest patients from danger-prone areas.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is working amid extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances to provide critical emergency assistance, including ambulance and health services. PRCS teams are the leading provider of emergency services in Palestine and their ambulance centers and hospitals continue to operate at the highest capacity despite the lack of essential supplies, including critical fuel and medicine.
Sadly, both Magen David Adom and Palestine Red Crescent staff and volunteers have lost their lives during this conflict. The American Red Cross supports the heroic work of these national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and mourns the staff killed in the line of duty. To ensure critical humanitarian efforts continue, the American Red Cross stands firmly with the global Red Cross Movement in calling for civilians, medical workers, health facilities and aid workers to be protected.
A deepening humanitarian crisis
The global Red Cross Movement is calling on all parties to exercise restraint and to abide by their obligations under International Humanitarian Law. Officials remain deeply alarmed about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the preceding attacks in Israel. There are drastic shortages of necessities, such as fuel, water, and food. Medical supplies are running out and doctors are concerned about the care and safety of patients in multiple Gaza hospitals.
While aid has finally begun to cross into Gaza at the Rafah border, it is not nearly enough for the over 2.2 million people in need. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is coordinating with staff in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt to ensure critical aid supplies are prepositioned for immediate delivery as humanitarian corridors continue to open. Officials continue to call for the ability to safely deliver this aid regularly and at scale.
IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said that he’s grateful that the Egyptian and Palestine Red Crescent societies have been able to help move some humanitarian supplies into Gaza. “But the ongoing humanitarian needs in Gaza are immense. Much more aid will be needed to meet them,” he said.
Preserving our humanity in these dark moments
International Humanitarian Law — also known as the law of armed conflict — exists to preserve humanity in the darkest moments and must be followed by all parties to armed conflicts. Civilians cannot be deliberately attacked. Health care workers and humanitarian organizations must be able to carry out their life-saving work to reach those in need. Those held hostage must be released immediately.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has maintained a presence in the area for decades, has helped facilitate the release of some hostages and transported them out of Gaza to be reunited with their families. As a neutral, humanitarian organization, the ICRC continues to pursue every possible avenue to secure the release of hostages, calling for urgent, immediate access to all those all those detained in the hostilities and for all sides to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. The ICRC is in constant communication with both parties and third-party actors to coordinate humanitarian access and response. Their neutrality is essential to do this life-saving work. The ICRC is also in regular contact with the families of the missing and remains dedicated to locating all who are being held as soon as the situation permits.
In addition, ICRC experts are on the ground in Gaza including a war surgery team and a weapons contamination specialist. ICRC trucks have also entered carrying urgently needed medical materials and water purification supplies, increasing capacity to support hospitals and deliver life-saving trauma surgery, as well as to assist people desperate for clean drinking water.
The American Red Cross is committed to supporting the global Red Cross Movement and all those working to provide humanitarian aid during this devastating and heartbreaking time.