ICRCl2 Top Red Cross Official: There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza

There are two significant news items in this blog.  First, it is clear that the massive efforts of the activists who wrote the Red Cross to demand a Red Cross visit with Gilad Shalit are starting to pay off.   We salute all the Act For Israel activists who participated in this effort.  Together, our voice is strong.  More importantly, our efforts are starting to produce results.  Let’s not rest at this point.  Please take a moment and write the Red Cross again. Together, we will continue to act for Gilad, until Gilad is able to act for himself again.

The second  news item is that the Red Cross is clearly stating what we have known all along.  There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It is time for the world to separate from the spin and focus on the reality.  We salute the Red Cross for its moral clarity on this matter.

The following is a press release from the IDF Spokesperson.  We bring it to you in its entirety:

Mathilde Redmatn is the deputy director of the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip. Redmatn has had the opportunity to see with her eyes what most of us only see on television screens.

On previous assignments, Redmatn has lived in Congo and Colombia. Her activities in Gaza are completely different, she says.

“Of course the work is different everywhere, but here the fabric of life is problematic,” she says. “There are two peoples, one living under closure and one living under daily rocket fire, which violates international law.

Redmatn has a lot to say about problems related to the closure Israel has placed on Gaza but she also talks about the surprising normalcy in one of the most explosive regions of the world that receives extensive media attention.

“There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” she explains. “If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach. The problem is mainly in maintenance of infrastructure and in access to goods, concrete for example. Israel has the legitimate right to protect the civilan population, this right should be balanced with the right of 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strio. despite the easing of the closure and the partial lifting of export bans in the wake of the flotilla incident, continued restrictions on the movement of people and difficulties in importing building materials hampered sustainable economic recovery and dashed any hope of leading a normal and dignified life”.

The Red Cross is an international organization founded in 1863. It promotes laws that protect the victims of war and provides humanitarian aid to people living in conflict zones.  Red Cross representatives have worked in Gaza since 1967. Their goal, says Redmatn, is twofold.

“We are documenting human rights violations according to international law and we speak with relevant parties on how to take care of the issue,” Redmatn says.  “We are talking about captives , soldiers, the wounded, and in fact anyone defined by the Geneva Convention. Additionally, in the area of humanitarian assistance, we are mainly engaged in the areas of water and sanitation. We are talking about a highly dense population.  Most of the infrastructure cannot be improved due to the closure so we try to improve the situation with existing tools. One example of this is a factory we helped establish in order to clean sewage water that spills into the sea.”

The Marmara, Hamas and the Arab world

It is important to remember that the Red Cross is not a political organization by definition.  It operates through reports and two-sided dialogue, without expressing its own positions, maintaining complete neutrality.

“Our goal is not to negotiate peace, but to ensure the well-being of the civilian population,” Redmatn says. “We understand and recognize Israel’s right to security but it needs to maintain the balance between that and the right of Palestinians living in Gaza to a living and to proper medical care.  Of course this is also the responsibility of Hamas to its citizens and therefore we also have relations with them.”

The Red Cross played a role in the Gaza flotilla incident last year.

“We offered our assistance to Israeli authorities in regards to people who were arrested who were from countries without diplomatic relations with Israel,” Redmatn says. On the question of whether the flotilla was peaceful, she answers neutrally “this is a matter we discuss with the responsible parties.” According to her, the flotilla led to changes in Israeli policy on Gaza but those changes are not yet complete.

“More goods enter, but there is still room for improvement” in regards to exports and the passage of people, she says.

A clear goal, but is it possible in light of the current threat? The subject, Redmatn says, is sensitive.

“Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip is against international law because it is directed at civilians,” she says. “We conduct confidential or bilateral dialogue with Hamas on the matter. As time passes, the dialogue also develops.”

On recent events in the Arab world, Redmatn says: “The new wind blowing in the Arab world doesn’t change the current activities of the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip. It’s still too early to tell what will happen and how needs will change. In any case, we will respond quickly to changes and we will see what the future holds.”

“We will continue to ask to monitor Gilad Shalit but we do not have the capability to force anything on Hamas”

Operating in the Gaza Strip requires the Red Cross to work on an ongoing basis with the IDF.

“The relationship with the IDF has developed over the years,” Redmatn says. “The army understands our mandate. We are in daily contact with each other to coordinate the entry of goods into Gaza and the entry and exit of people, sometimes our personnel and sometimes patients who are going to Israel to receive medical care. The second matter still needs improvement as the time required to cross the border is still long. We hope to augment the medical equipment in Gaza itself in order to reduce the number of people who need to go outside [of Gaza].”

These days, she says, the organization has the goal of strengthening the relationship with IDF soldiers.

“Not everyone understands what we are doing,” she says. “Therefore, we talk about our work to soldiers who serve at the Erez crossing. The intention is to expand this to the entire area around Gaza.”

But working with the IDF does not only regard the civilian population living in Gaza; it also touches on captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Repeated requests by the Red Cross to monitor Shalit’s condition have so far been met with persistent refusal by Hamas.

“When a person’s freedom is taken away, he deserves at least contact with his family,” Redmatn says. “We will continue to ask but we do not have the capability to force anything on Hamas.  Hamas’ refusal is based on security reasons. Hamas is afraid of the IDF’s advanced technological capabilities and believes that allowing contact will lead to the location of Gilad.”

Redmatn called on all sides to abide by international law.

“It is important that organizations and countries respect international law,” she said. “Only thus will the situation get better.”

Click here to view this press release on the IDF Spokesperson website

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Sharone Levinson

3 Responses to Top Red Cross Official: There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza

  1. Dan Beaudoin says:

    In fact, this has been the official position of the ICRC for the past decade with regard to Gaza. Some of the UN organizations and other politically motivated NGO’s are less conservative than the ICRC, and use the “humanitarian crisis” terminology in order to leverage political motives.

  2. Mountainbird says:

    “Red Cross official: Gaza isn’t experiencing a humanitarian crisis”

    Findings are that this story is false “there is no one bearing the name “Mathilde Redmatn” in the employ of the ICRC.”

    Mathilde Redmatn’ and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza
    by Tim Haughton on April 26, 2011

    The entire article can be read here.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/04/mathilde-redmatn-and-the-humanitarian-crisis-in-gaza.html#more-41746

  3. Jinx says:

    WRONG, this ICRC rep exists, and hasn’t retracted her statement about “no humanitarian crisis in Gaza” nor anything else AFAIK:

    1. Palestinian-Police’s site says she’s an ICRC rep: http://www.police.ps/en/index.php?mod=article&cat=PoliceNews&article=696

    2. http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/interview/2011/palestine-israel-interview-2011-05-19.htm shows ICRC itself admitting her existence.

    …so where is DBG’s “total bullshit,” Chaos4700?
    (was the beginning of my reply to many mondoweiss users…and let’s see if Tim Haughton of MondoWeiss at least isn’t enough of a hypocrite to block the following reply to mondoweiss users, which I made under username “Jinx” on mondoweiss, given that Tim complained that CAMERA blocked HIM from replying).  I continued with:

    Many of the anti-Israel people replying to (and reposting) this story are the bullshitters, e.g. here we have Chaos4700 claiming that timhoughton’s story means that DBG are “total bullshit[ters]” — what have they bullshitted about?

    You (and seafoid when he says “The ‘interview’ is obviously bullshit”) can’t prove Weizman (the interviewer) bullshitted about her existence, nor that Weizman bullshitted about Radmatten stating that there’s “no humanitarian crisis in Gaza” & other statements: and BTW…
    . . . Redmatten was also quoted as criticizing Hamas actions, calling them humanitarian crimes, so here are 2 ICRC webpages with a similar position to Rattmatten’s position that “all” or “both” sides, not only Israel, must be more careful not to commit humanitarian crimes — contrary to many people here giving 100% of the blame to Israel for those war-crimes: http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/interview/israel-palestine-interview-281208.htm  http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/news-release/palestine-2-news-130109.htm
    …yet Schmuel’s claim below, that “the spin–balance between the actions of Israel and of Hamas [is one of the things] inconsistent with previous ICRC statements” is contrary to the last 2 ICRC webpages which have a “balance” of blaming “both parties” or even “all” parties; yet none of mondoweiss’s regulars points that out to Schmuel.

    None of the regulars on mondoweiss corrected Chaos4700 (nor Schmuel, nor article, nor seafoid…) despite that Chaos4700′s is the 2nd comment on this article — a sign that mondoweiss’s regulars are brainwashed (drinking each others’ kool-aid: i.e.”intellectually incestuous”), IMHO.

    I see “the simple, reciprocal understanding that if you [timhoughton] provide the information, I [Chaos4700 and others] will — not only “print it” and parrot timhoughton’s original story — many of the anti-Israel crowd even DISTORTED timhoughton’s original story until the claims from many anti-Israel bullshitters were that the IDF journalist & other journalists (allegedly) were lying to protect Israel.  
    (NOTE: mainstream reliable journalists aren’t making that mistake, as they don’t take credence from a hack like timhoughton, whose hyperbole in this blog is beyond belief, and IMHO his semantics only encouraged his comrades to make such distortions. Also, Tim, did you ever think of the ways some journalists might have fact-checked her existence & still got her name misspelled such as: Israelis have no vowels nor double-consonants & thus should be expected to miss that type of misspelling, and Western journalists might have called-in to confirm her existence & thus would also miss the misspelling; the Palestine-Police also misspelled her name http://www.police.ps/en/index.php?mod=article&cat=PoliceNews&article=696 SO I GUESS THE PNA POLICE MUST BE IN ON THE PRO-ISRAEL CONSPIRACY: declare a national emergency! :-) More seriously, a misspelling/mistranslation does not affect the SUBSTANCE of a story.

    . . . So Noam Chomsky’s critique of bullshitters –which timhoughton was nice enough to call attention to– who magnify each other’s bullshit “without question” is applicable to the anti-Israel crowd in this case, and in contrast I can’t CONFIRM any bullshit as being applicable to the mainstream journalists…in this particular case.

    Actually, many such as a “SandraW” and “mountainbird” on other websites went beyond Chaos4700 in the bullshit department. These people are a DISGRACE, and even most of the obtuse & dishonest anti-Israel historic revisionists I’ve seen are usually more careful & sly than the OBVIOUS lies that Mathilde doesn’t even exist or a refusal to acknowledge that ICRC blames Hamas too for crimes that have caused Gaza’s humanitarian situations (NOTE: I think everyone objective should hesitate to use the loaded-words of humanitarian “crisis” unless they create an immutable definition, applicable worldwide, of what they consider a “crisis” to be; I’d just call every unique case a “humanitarian situation” rather than using a “check-box” for, just as Tim’s also stated on other webpages that as a doctor can’t apply just 1 checkbox to diagnose his patient, we can’t apply a simple check-box to unique geopolitical situations; reality is more complex than that).

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