Magen David Adom received the right to use the Red Crystal symbol on Sunday, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) implemented the Third Protocol of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
The Third Protocol introduced a protective emblem called the Red Crystal in addition to the accepted Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems. The MDA can display the Red Star of David, which in itself is not one of the ICRC's recognized symbols, inside the crystal emblem while working abroad.
If adding the Red Star of David to the Red Crystal would endanger MDA workers in hostile territory, the organization will use the crystal alone, just as the Red Cross will be omitted from the crystal if the symbol's presence presents a danger to Red Cross personnel in any given country.
No ICRC or IFRC society is obliged to make any change to the emblem it uses domestically.
The ICRC said the adoption of the Red Crystal "reaffirms the determination of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to consolidate its universality and thereby to enhance its strength and credibility. By offering new possibilities for protection and identification to national societies and states that wish to use the Red Crystal, the Third Protocol exemplifies the movement's commitment to neutral and independent humanitarian action."
The Third Protocol was adopted by a large majority at a diplomatic conference held in Geneva in December 2005. In June 2006, the 29th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent amended the movement's statutes to incorporate the new, non-religious Red Crystal. So far, 84 nations have signed the Third Protocol, and nine have ratified it.
Now, said the ICRC, the challenge will be to generate the same worldwide recognition of the Red Crystal as is afforded the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. This is a long-term task that must be pursued by the members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and by countries party to the Geneva Conventions.
The vote in June was hailed by American Jewish organizations, which worked with the Foreign Ministry and MDA officials for MDA's full inclusion in the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, as "an important achievement" and "one less struggle for the Jewish people." MDA waited 57 years to be join the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement.
The Geneva vote was overwhelmingly in favor of admitting MDA, with 237 members voting in favor and 54 - mostly Muslim - voting against.
Also in the summer of 2006, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PCRS) was admitted, though not representing a recognized country.