In a week that commemorates 40 years of Israeli occupation, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society has issued a press release condemning Israel’s continued occupation and pursuit of policies that violate international and humanitarian law. Stating that Israel ignores its duties as an occupying power, as laid out in various international resolutions including the Fourth Geneva Convention, the press releases accuses Israel of deliberately pursuing policies which contravene a number of laws pertaining to the protection of civilian persons during times of war.

“The deteriorating conditions in all spheres of life in the occupied Palestinian territory are a result of Israel’s illegal policies and practices, Israel’s failure to recognize the legal status of the Palestinian territory as occupied territory to which International Humanitarian Law must be applied and the fact that Israel has practically – though not legally -excused itself of its responsibilities and obligations as an occupying power, with the blessing of the international community.”

The press release further condemns a wide range of ongoing Israeli practices and initiatives including “land acquisition, establishing occupying colonies, building the annexation Wall, constructing settlement roads, demolishing houses, imposing a financial and economic siege, restricting the movement of Palestinians, isolating and judaizing Jerusalem, fragmenting the Palestinian territory, plundering Palestinian water, practicing extra-judicial killing and targeting civilians – including providers of humanitarian and medical services.”

The staff of the PRCS have also suffered at the hands of Israeli occupation. The report notes that during the current Intifada “Sixteen of PRCS’ staff has been killed, and 218 injured. PRCS has also recorded 2100 incidents in which its vehicles were deterred and denied access by the occupation forces.”

The press release ends with a plea for the international community to “transform their role from that of observers…to one of active involvement,” arguing that “The Palestinian people must be given the chance to free themselves from occupation, practice their right to self-determination and establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

The PRCS was established on 26 December 1968 to provide health and social services for Palestinians inside and outside Palestine. The organization is currently active in the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and other locations.