No hierarchy in pain and suffering – what our Movement is doing in Israel and Gaza

7 December 2023

Alongside International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), we’re concerned by the situation in Israel and Gaza. 

"The level of human suffering is intolerable. It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza, and with a military siege in place there is also no adequate humanitarian response currently possible. 

An unimpeded and regular flow of aid must be allowed to enter Gaza. All those deprived of liberty must be treated humanely. The hostages must be released, and the ICRC must be allowed to safely visit them. 

As a neutral actor, the ICRC stands ready to support further humanitarian agreements that reduce suffering and heartbreak." ICRC President, Mirjana Spoljaric

ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric, visiting Gaza to advance humanitarian assistance for civilians. ICRC, November 2023.


As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, we stand in solidarity with the humanitarian efforts of our Movement colleagues at the ICRC, the IFRC, Magen David Adom in Israel, and Palestine Red Crescent Society as they respond to the escalation of violence and displacement in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. 

There is no justification for indiscriminate violence or attacks against civilians. ICRC calls on the sides to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to take every step possible to prevent civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as electricity and water supplies from coming to further harm. 

Al Moghazi bakery, located in the middle of Gaza. ICRC, October 2023


Civilians must not be attacked. They cannot be taken hostage. They have a right to receive humanitarian assistance and medical care. Health-care workers and humanitarian organisations must be able to safely carry out their life-saving work to reach those in need.  

Medical professionals and humanitarian workers must be able to respond without fear for their own lives. Any violence towards medical personnel is unacceptable. 

Humanitarian organisations, ambulances, and medical workers must also be allowed to carry out their life-saving work safely.  Hospitals should be sanctuaries to preserve human life, not scenes of death and destruction. No patient should be killed in a hospital bed. No doctors should lose their lives trying to save others. Hospitals must be protected by international humanitarian law. 

The needs are staggering and will only continue to increase if the hostilities persist. We are closely monitoring the situation and continue to assess the best way we can assist those impacted by the conflict. 

ICRC vehicles travelling through Gaza. Photographer: Pascal Hundt, ICRC, November 2023.


We fully support the Joint Statement from Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Robert Mardini, Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the escalation of hostilities in Israel and Gaza. 

Joint Statement 

All parties should respect international humanitarian law.  

Our Movements role  

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement shares a commitment to being impartial – providing humanitarian assistance where it’s most needed, without discrimination. In order to achieve this, we’re committed to being neutral and independent. This is critical during crises and conflicts. These principles mean that we’re not part of the fight and we don’t take sides. 

During an armed conflict, our Red Cross Red Crescent emblems are protective devices – people, vehicles, equipment, or buildings showing them must not be attacked. 

ICRC is a guardian of international humanitarian law and a neutral intermediary between parties of conflict. Their teams in Israel and Gaza and are doing everything they can to help people. This includes: 

  • facilitating the release of hostages and asking that hostages are able to contact their loved ones. 
  • providing medical assistance and psychological support to those impacted. 
  • distributing essential items, like blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene parcels and cash assistance to those affected.   
  • supporting shelters with power generation, water provision and desalination. 

ICRC continues to remind Israel, Hamas, and other parties to the armed conflict, of their obligations:  

  • following the rules of conflict - distinction, proportionality and precaution  
  • protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure  
  • not taking hostages 
  • enabling medical assistance 
  • treating people who are arrested or detained with dignity. 

ICRC helps people around the world affected by armed conflict and other violence, doing everything they can to relieve suffering, as well as protecting lives and dignity, alongside Red Cross Red Crescent partners. 

ICRC have had a permanent mission in Jerusalem serving Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including Gaza, since 1967. 

If you’re worried about loved ones 

If you’ve lost contact with family in Israel, Gaza, or other areas of the occupied Palestinian territories, you can make an enquiry through our Restoring Family Links service. 

Our team will contact you once you’ve made your initial enquiry. We work with the International Committee of the Red Cross to find loved ones who are missing due to the escalation in armed violence. 

Call: 0800 RED CROSS 


Make a Restoring Family Links enquiry online

Support people in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories

If you would like to support people affected by the conflict in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is seeking donations for its humanitarian activities.

Donate via the icrc

For more information on the work of the ICRC in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and how you can help, we encourage you to visit the ICRC’s Israel and the Occupied Territories page.

For more information  

Find out more about the ICRC's work to facilitate the release and transfer of hostages held in Gaza and of Palestinian detainees to the West Bank

Israel and the Occupied Territories: ICRC teams begin multi-day operation to reunite hostages and detainees with their families, deliver assistance | ICRC

Read the Frequently asked questions on ICRC’s work in Israel and the occupied territories

Frequently asked questions on ICRC’s work in Israel and the occupied territories | International Committee of the Red Cross

Find out more about the Fundamental Principles that guide our work.

Red Cross Fundamental Principles | New Zealand Red Cross

Find out more about international humanitarian law and how these rules apply to armed conflicts.

International Humanitarian Law

Find out more about the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

Our Movement

Find out more about the Red Cross emblems and what they mean.

Our emblems


Header image caption: Al Moghazi bakery, located in the middle of Gaza. ICRC, October 2023.