After 24 Deaths, Red Cross Asks Combatants To Respect Its Neutrality

( – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is neutral during combats. Its priority is to deliver humanitarian aid to people in high-risk zones, including war zones. The organization recently issued a plea to combatants around the world.

On May 30, IFRC President Kate Forbes posted a plea on X, formerly Twitter, asking combatants to stop killing members of her organization. She said that two Palestine Red Crescent Society paramedics, Suhail Hassouna and Haitham Tubasi, died days earlier when Israel struck Rafah. They were in their ambulance when it was hit by something. The Palestine Red Crescent Society’s emblem was clearly marked on the vehicle.

Forbes said that the IFRC had lost 24 aid workers this year in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Twenty of them belonged to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Four others were members of the Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s largest EMT force. Forbes demanded officials on both sides of the conflict stop killing them.

“Each death in this conflict is one too many. We must have our staff and volunteers protected,” Forbes said.

According to reports, there was heavy fighting in Rafah on the day the paramedics were killed. Israel seized the border the city shares with Egypt. Days prior, a gunfight broke out at the crossing between Israel and Egypt, leaving an Egyptian soldier dead. Both sides are investigating the incident.

The Associated Press interviewed Forbes while she was in Manila, Philippines. The IFRC president said she’s appealing to governments to invoke the Geneva Conventions. She said that as long as international law is being enforced, aid workers can continue in the most dangerous high-conflict zones.

“We are neutral,” Forbes said. She explained that the IFRC workers just want to provide aid and make lives better by giving them “basic humanitarian aid and restor[ing] their human dignity.”

In February, Fobes traveled to Rafah. She told The AP that she has nightmares about what she saw there. She also expressed the need for a ceasefire, calling it “absolutely imperative.”

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