The three-hour lull in fighting on Thursday, the first in over a week of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, allowed aid agencies to reach civilians who were previously isolated from needed supplies.
What they found shocked agency representatives. In one house, an International Red Cross team found four young children too weak to support themselves next to the corpses of their mothers.
The aid agency had been trying for four days to reach the familiesin the Zaytun neighborhood of Gaza City. Israeli troops had refused to allow them passage.
But when the team tried to evacuate the wounded, soldiers came into the building and tried to force them to leave – indicating that the soldiers knew exactly how dire conditions were for the civilians inside.
"This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, the ICRC’s local representative, quoted in a press release. "The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded."
The ICRC called the incident "unacceptable" and said Israel was failing to meet its obligations under international law.
The group usually only reports violations to state officials in order to ensure future compliance and public statements are extremely rare.