The International Committee of the Red Cross hit in Gaza: “heaps of corpses, blood everywhere”

The International Committee of the Red Cross hit in Gaza: “heaps of corpses, blood everywhere”
The International Committee of the Red Cross hit in Gaza: “heaps of corpses, blood everywhere”

On Friday, “large caliber” shots near the ICRC office in Al-Mawasi, near Rafah, caused “a massive influx of victims to the Red Cross field hospital”, which “received 22 dead and 45 injured”, according to the ICRC, without specifying the origin of the shots.

It all started around 3:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. GMT) with “three big explosions,” the ICRC head in Rafah, William Schomburg, explained to journalists via video link.

This is not the first time that installations of the organization, whose headquarters are in Geneva, have been damaged since the start of the war in Gaza.

But “the scale of this shock was completely unprecedented, at least for us,” said Mr. Schomburg: “we literally found body parts scattered in different areas, including within the compound ( of the ICRC), which we then recovered.

“In a few moments, we saw a flood of wounded people present at the gate of our compound. There were piles of corpses, blood everywhere,” he said.

“Frankly, this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The amount of suffering in such a short time was truly shocking to the team. We tried as hard as we could to stabilize some of the victims “, he said.

Ambulances transported the injured to the Red Cross field hospital, located “500 meters from our office”, but some of them died there.

“An immense feeling of fear”

Around the ICRC, “in the street there were pools of blood, there were bodies scattered on the ground, and an immense feeling of fear among people who were clearly panicked and very desperate, having nowhere to go “, described Mr. Schomburg.

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It was “a very hard day for the team, for the victims, for the families”.

The ICRC has, next to the building hit by the “projectiles”, a large camp in which many families of ICRC staff members live in tents. For Mr. Schomburg, it is “a miracle” that no member of his team and their families were seriously injured.

The coastal area of ​​Al-Mawasi, near Rafah, is home to displaced people driven out by fighting in the rest of the Palestinian territory. It had been declared a “humanitarian zone” by Israel, in theory safe for the displaced.

According to Mr. Schomburg, the ICRC installations are not located in this “humanitarian zone” but just south of this perimeter, in a “block adjacent to it”.

However, he said, the locations and coordinates of all the organization’s facilities are known to all parties to the conflict and all premises are marked with the famous Red Cross emblem.

“So how can you explain the strikes that we experienced yesterday? I think that this question should be asked of the parties in conflict and not of us,” he concluded, emphasizing: “I am a humanitarian, I am not not a military specialist.”

The October 7 Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official data. Of the 251 people kidnapped that day, 116 are still being held in Gaza, 41 of whom are dead according to the army.

The ensuing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip has so far left 37,551 dead, mostly civilians, according to data from the Gaza government’s Health Ministry.

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