Red Cross suspends work in Gaza

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced Tuesday that they will be pulling out most of their aid workers from Gaza and suspending all activities after two of its Italian workers were abducted in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza after their car was stopped by gunmen.

The kidnapping of the two Italians comes after a series of kidnappings of journalists, aid workers, and other foreigners by Palestinian gunmen wishing to assert their power in the ever-growing chaos of Gaza. Most of the kidnappings have been conducted in order to pressure the government for money or job guarantees.

Similar to other kidnappings of foreigners in the past two years, the two Italians, identified as Claudio Moroni, 36, and Gianmarco Onorato, 63, were freed early Wednesday without being harmed.

Iyad Nasr, a spokesman for the Gaza office of the Red Cross announced that they will be suspending all operations in the Gaza Strip, and will intervene only in matters of life and death. Nasr said that all employees have been ordered to stay indoors and not leave their office for fear of further kidnappings and other acts of violence against foreigners in Gaza.

The decision of the Red Cross, which helps the movement of ambulances and other medical help throughout the Gaza Strip, could be potentially damaging to the health and welfare of the Gaza residents who depend on their services. The ICRC has not given any indication as to how long the suspension will last.

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