Red Cross chief reaches Gaza, says people's suffering 'intolerable'
'It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza'
(Web Desk) – Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric arrives in Gaza on Monday where she warns that the human suffering is intolerable.
She also called for the protection of civilians in the Palestinian territory as the humanitarian situation in Gaza reaches a breaking point with the incessant bombings of innocent civilians by Israel.
She further says that 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.”
“I have arrived in Gaza, where people’s suffering is intolerable,” Spoljaric writes on X. “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.”
— Mirjana Spoljaric (@ICRCPresident) December 4, 2023
Spoljaric, whose organization has faced criticism from both sides in the conflict for not providing adequate help to Israeli hostages held by Hamas and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, insists that “all those deprived of liberty must be treated humanely.”
“The hostages must be released, and the ICRC must be allowed to safely visit them,” she says. “As a neutral actor, the ICRC stands ready to support further humanitarian agreements that reduce suffering and heartbreak.”
Full-scale Israeli offensive
Her visit comes after full-scale fighting resumed Friday following the collapse of a week-long truce brokered by Qatar and Egypt, during which Israel and Hamas exchanged scores of hostages and prisoners.
Israel has vowed to crush Hamas in retaliation for the Palestinian resistance group's October 7 attacks that killed about 1,200 people and saw 240 hostages taken, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel's military said on Sunday it had carried out around 10,000 air strikes since the war started.
The health ministry in the besieged enclave says nearly 16,000 people have been killed by Israel in Gaza, about 70 percent of them women and children — a death toll that has sparked global alarm and mass demonstrations.
"The last week provided a small degree of humanitarian respite, a positive glimpse of humanity that raised hopes around the world that a path to reduced suffering could now be found," Spoljaric said in the statement.
“As a neutral actor, the ICRC stands ready to support further humanitarian agreements that reduce suffering and heartbreak.”
She says the purpose of her visit is “to advance efforts that alleviate the desperate humanitarian situation.”
“I will convey my deep concern for the plight of civilians and underlie the ICRC’s utmost commitment to doing everything we can to ease their suffering,” she added.
The ICRC said that during her visit to Gaza, Spoljaric would also spend time with the organisation's team on the ground and "visit the European Hospital, where ICRC medical teams have been conducting life-saving surgery alongside local healthcare workers."
“We have urgently appealed for civilian life to be protected and respected on all sides, in line with international humanitarian law, and I reiterate that appeal today,” Spoljaric said, insisting that “an unimpeded and regular flow of aid must be allowed to enter Gaza".