Red Cross chief sees Gaza war from other side in Sderot

Kellenberger is impressed by Israel's making every effort to continue - even during war - its humanitarian assistance to Palestinian wounded.

January 14, 2009 22:14
2 minute read.
Red Cross chief sees Gaza war from other side in Sderot

Kassam damage sderot 248 88. (photo credit: AP [file])


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Immediately after the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Dr. Jakob Kellenberger, visited Gaza on Tuesday, he traveled Wednesday to Sderot to see how Magen David Adom (MDA) has been rescuing residents targeted by Hamas missiles and rockets. Not long after Kellenberger - a Swiss national - and his entourage left Sderot, a Color Red alarm sounded and a powerful blast was heard by residents, but the rocket did not fall in the development town that time. Kellenberger, who during the Second Lebanon War expressed much more concern for Lebanese than for residents of northern Israel - which was hit by Hizbullah missiles - praised MDA for its work to save Israeli lives and those of wounded and ill Palestinians from Gaza. MDA chairman Dr. Noam Yifrach and director-general Eli Bin met the ICRC president and described the rescue organization's activities since the war in Gaza began. "I came to listen to you, learn about the work of MDA teams and see how the civilian population living in the region are coping with the situation," said Kellenberger. Paramedic Avi Tigar, who lives in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, told him about the suffering of children and other residents during eight years of attacks by Palestinian terrorists. "Dozens of people live round the clock in a shelter in the event that an alarm will go off. But they are trying nevertheless to live a normal life," he added. The ICRC president toured Sderot neighborhoods that were damaged by rockets and missiles. One resident, whose house was hit, told the MDA officials he hoped they were able to give Kellenberger "a full picture of the damage to the mental state and property of Sderot residents and those of nearby towns and villages where life has became unbearable." Kellenberger concluded his visit by saying he was impressed by Israel's making every effort to continue - even during war - its humanitarian assistance to Palestinian wounded. In Gaza, the ICRC chief urged the fighting parties to spare civilians and let humanitarian workers do their work. "Both parties must ensure that all victims are cared for rapidly, at all times of day. In particular, the wounded must be evacuated and receive treatment. Injured people cannot wait for days, or even for hours, before being treated. The work of medical personnel must be respected - and this is not negotiable." "What I saw today was shocking," said Kellenberger during a visit at Shifa Hospital in Gaza. "It is unacceptable to see so many wounded people. Their lives must be spared and the security of those who care for them guaranteed." He was also due to meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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