Red Cross calls on Israel, Palestinians to protect innocent civilians

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday called on both Israel and the Palestinians to respect international law and stop harming innocent civilians. A statement issued by the local branch of the Geneva-based humanitarian organization said it was concerned about the wave of violence since Tuesday, when an Israeli ground and air offensive to try and stop Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel claimed the lives of 19 Palestinians, including the son of a prominent Hamas leader. The Red Cross statement quoted Christoph Harnisch, head of the organization's delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territories, as saying his office was, "in daily contact with the Israeli army and Palestinian armed factions in an effort to persuade them to respect the civilian population." The statement spoke of "the suffering of men, women and children taking no direct part in the ongoing conflict between Palestinian militants and the Israeli armed forces."