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International Committee of the Red Cross, Hamas Guardians. (On Fish & House Guests II)


In September 2010 I wrote here about the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and it’s too ready inclination of sympathy towards Hamas, to the extent that it gave sanctuary to three wanted Hamas fugitives, Ahmad Attoun, Khaled Abu-Arafa and Muhammad Totah. 

The three had been ordered to leave East Jerusalem having had their residency permits revoked when they refused to renounce their ties with Hamas.  As I noted in my previous article, the Hamas members were openly supported by Uri Avneri and others on the extreme left in Israel, who visited them at the ICRC’s headquarters in the Sheikh Jarrah building in East Jerusalem. 

The Red Cross, despite their statement that the Israeli police could have arrested them whenever they wanted, aided and abetted them to break Israeli law by making them comfortable there.    

According to the Jerusalem Post (Hamas MPs hiding in E. Jerusalem Red Cross arrested, Jan. 23) all of the fugitives were provided with a room inside the building where they could sleep and keep their belongings, a bathroom, and electricity for their protest tent together with a water cooler.  Readers will agree that these are hardly the actions of unwilling hosts towards wanted men.  We are told that the men met with overseas dignitaries, and even held a press conference there.  Family members came daily to bring food and clothing.   All this is in contrast to the ICRC’s passivity and its lack of effort to gain access to Gilad Shalit while he was being held by Hamas.

It seemed then that the ICRC’s house guests, like the fish in the proverb, would soon begin to smell but it transpired not.  Ahmad Attoun was arrested several months ago, having been lured onto the street by Israeli police.

The police seemed unsure what to do about Abu-Arafa and Totah, but undercover police finally went into the building and arrested the two, who put up no resistance.

It seems that the ICRC’s actions are the only things that smell, because, in spite of its protestations that it is involved only in humanitarian issues, it did not force these Hamas supporters to leave their premises.  

Its “we are involved only in humanitarian efforts” excuse also rings rather hollow in the light of recent revelations that it has provided first aid training to the Taliban, the impact of which it tried to minimise by staying that it had also provided training to Afghani civilians “to ensure that everyone is treated humanely” and …”as fairly as possible.” 

People might wonder, and rightly, whether that first aid to non-combatants included how to relieve the pain and prevent further harm to people who have had a limb chopped off or acid thrown in their faces.

Now I would not put it past the Taliban to have the cheek to demand/request these favours from the politically and morally paralysed – oops, I mean “neutral” – ICRC, but the moral equivalence which accompanied the meeting of that demand/request beggars belief, as do the ICRC’s excuses for providing it.

2 replies »

  1. We live in a world where it is impossible to be honest and at the same time to admire most of the bodies that popularly are held to be admirable anti-racist & humanist.

    It was not only Gilad Shalit that the ICRC managed to find so easy not to visit or protect. He was just the latest. They continued the pattern set with earlier Israeli prisoners of the Arabs, for instance Regev & Goldwasser.