In the immediate aftermath of the 13 November 2015 attack against an Israeli family in the Hebron area, resulting in the tragic death of two civilians, numerous reports pointed at an alleged failure of the PRCS to provide due care to the victims. If proven true, such a failure would have represented a grave breach of fundamental principles of our Movement (in particular, impartiality).

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Israel and occupied territories examined the case thoroughly, on the basis of all available information, as requested and/or obtained, among other sources, from the Israeli Magen David Adom (MDA) and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

Accordingly, the ICRC concludes that a two-person emergency medical team of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), responding to an emergency call, was the first team to arrive on the scene. Upon their arrival, PRCS personnel proceeded to assess the condition of the victims and any need for immediate and life-saving emergency care. None of the survivors required emergency medical assistance, and tragically there was nothing more the PRCS team could do for those who had been shot and killed. Within minutes, the first of several Israeli civilian and military ambulances arrived, at which time the PRCS team departed.

It is regrettable that the statements, representations, as well as reports in the mainstream and social media within Israel were so quick to presume the PRCS guilty of failing to provide due care to the victims. Having noted the limited knowledge of facts, misleading interpretation of events and even truncated evidence, as relayed to the public by the Israeli media, such actions can have serious consequences for emergency medical teams’ ability to work and save lives in Israel and in the occupied territories.

What matters most now, is that the National Societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Israeli and Palestinian, are able to continue their vital work, with effective and serene cooperation. Both National Societies have strong records of principled humanitarian service. The ICRC will continue to urge all concerned, including and even especially those so prompt in levelling grave accusations against the PRCS, to do their utmost to ensure that emergency medical teams and health services are respected and protected at all times.