The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, shocked by the human misery spreading across Israel and the Gaza Strip, announced that its volunteers “refuse to abandon the most vulnerable” despite orders to evacuate the northern sector of the Palestinian enclave.

Nothing can justify the horrific attacks that Israel suffered last weekend (…) but these attacks also cannot justify the endless destruction in Gaza“, the announcement states.

“We are very concerned about the evacuation order in Gaza. Our volunteers refuse to walk away and abandon those who need them most. They need to protect themselves – so they can protect others.”

The Red Cross Movementis committed to continuing to provide protection and vital assistance to people suffering the horrors of today’s violence“, states the statement signed by the heads of the two arms of the Movement: the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Jagan Sapaguin, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Robert Mardini.

In international humanitarian lawthere is no hierarchy to suffering and pain and these rules exist to help preserve humanity in its darkest moments. And there is a desperate need for them to be observed today».

The already critical humanitarian situation in Gaza is rapidly becoming unlivable, Martin Griffiths, head of the United Nations humanitarian aid program, said in a statement.

There is no electricity, water or fuel in Gaza and food is running dangerously low, the UN official says, appealing to all countries with influence to ensure the rules of war are respected and prevent further escalation.

The actions and rhetoric of Hamas and Israel in recent days are “extremely disturbing, unacceptable,” he says. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected.”

In Gaza, families were shelled heading south through jammed, damaged roads following Israel’s evacuation order that left hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety but with nowhere to go,” the statement said.

Even wars have rules and those rules must be followed, always and by all sides.”

“Civilians must be allowed to flee to safe areas. And regardless of whether they leave or stay, there must be constant concern for their protection.”

Those captured must be treated humanely and all hostages must be freed, says Martin Griffiths.

“Civilians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories have suffered a week of utter agony and devastation. I fear the worst is yet to come. Last week was a test of humanity, and humanity is failing.”