GENEVA (Mar. 25)
Asserting that his organization has been unable to get satisfactory replies from the Israeli authorities, the president of the International Red Cross, Cornelio Sommaruga, plans to go to Israel himself to plead the cause of Palestinian detainees in Israeli custody.
Many complaints about their alleged mistreatment have been brought to the attention of the Israeli Mission to the United Nations in Geneva and to the government in Jerusalem by Red Cross representatives but to no avail, Sommaruga told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview here.
The head of the humanitarian organization travels only when all other approaches fail, he explained, saying that he hoped Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir would agree to meet with him.
Sommaruga recalled that after seeing Shamir two years ago, the Red Cross found some improvement in the Israeli attitude.
But it is still concerned with what is happening in the administered territories, and it intends to be much tougher in its condemnation of Israeli practices, which violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Red Cross head said.
He said the number of security detainees Red Cross representatives have been authorized to visit regularly has risen from 4,000 in 1987 to 16,000 in 1990.
Sommaruga maintained that two factors responsible for deteriorating conditions in the territories were the very duration of the military occupation and “the settlement policy pursued in violation of humanitarian law.”
Both, he said, have had an impact “on the life and sense of identity of the Palestinians.”