Report: Red Cross Statements ‘Overwhelmingly’ Biased Against Israel

GENEVA, December 11, 2023 — The International Red Cross has adopted an overwhelmingly skewed approach to the Hamas-Israel war in its social media, according to a new report by the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch.

Out of 187 tweets published by the main Red Cross accounts on Twitter (now known as X), including those by ICRC president  Mirjana Spoljaric Egger and director-general Robert Mardini, 77% were focused on criticizing Israel, expressly or by implication. Only 7% of the tweets criticized Hamas.

For example, on October 17th, the ICRC promoted the false Hamas story that Israel attacked and “destroyed” Al-Ahli hospital, saying it was “shocked and horrified” that “hundreds were killed,” including “patients “killed in a hospital bed,” and doctors “losing their lies trying to save others. None of these was true. The hospital parking lot was attacked by an Islamic Jihad rocket. ICRC never corrected its misinformation.

“The Red Cross claims to be neutral, but its public statements are anything but,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch and an international human rights lawyer.

“While it’s difficult to judge what the Red Cross does behind closed doors in its diplomatic work, we can certainly assess their public statements, and what we found is alarming. The world’s leading humanitarian organization is failing to uphold its core principles of neutrality. It’s failing to call out a terrorist group that systematically violates the Geneva Conventions and the principles of international humanitarian law,” said Neuer.

“Instead, the Red Cross and its leaders have repeatedly promoted the notion that Israel is responsible for a war that was in fact launched by Hamas, with its invasion and massacre of October 7th, with the knowledge and intention of incurring Palestinian casualties. By systematically omitting the direct responsibility of Hamas for the damage to civilians and property in Gaza, the Red Cross promotes a narrative that wrongly blames Israel — a democracy that has made efforts, unprecedented in any other army, and exceeding the requirements of the laws of war, to save Palestinian civilian lives, including warning them to leave target zones.”

“By refusing to condemn Hamas’s repeated and unprovoked aggression, and by systematically glossing over the suffering of Israelis subjected to 11,000 rockets in the past two months alone, including the suffering of 300,000 displaced Israelis, the ICRC and its leaders have effectively validated and encouraged Hamas’s cynical tactics to exploit and trample the laws of war.”

 

Methodology

The following analysis examines social media posts by key ICRC accounts on X (Twitter), including top officials, related to the Hamas-Israel war. We categorized tweets as solely criticizing Israel or Hamas, or criticizing both sides. This was determined by the presence of explicit criticism of a particular party, or implicit. For example, even without an express condemnation of Israel, a post that is clearly designed to evoke sympathy for Palestinians in Gaza, by showing photos of a distressed child, or emotional language, and which does not mention the responsibility of Hamas, will often evoke antipathy toward Israel.

 

Accounts Examined:

  1. @ICRC
  2. @ICRCpresident 
  3. @RMardiniICRC (Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross)
  4. @ICRC_ilot (Delegation of the ICRC in Israel and the Occupied Territories
  5. @FCarboniICRC (ICRC Regional Director for Near and Middle East)
  6. @MamadouSowICRC (Head of ICRC for the GCC)

 

Period examined: October 6, 2023 – November 28, 2023

 

Summary:

187 Total Tweets

144 Tweets (77%) focused solely on criticizing Israel

29 Tweets (16%) criticized both sides

14 Tweets (7%) criticized Hamas

 

1. Account Examined: @ICRC

69 Total Tweets

49 Tweets (71%) focused solely on criticizing Israel

      Examples:

  • (Oct 17) “We are shocked and horrified by reports that Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza was destroyed and hundreds were killed…”

 

12 Tweets (17%) criticized both sides

      Examples:

  • (Nov 7) “1 month on, civilians in Gaza & Israel are being forced to endure tremendous suffering and loss. And the impact on children is devastating. Parties must uphold their obligations under IHL & spare all civilians from the conduct of military operations.”
  • (Nov 20) “In the face of such horrific suffering, we continue our urgent call for the protection of civilians impacted by violence in Gaza & Israel. Under IHL Hostage taking is prohibited. Civilians & health workers must be protected.”
  • (Oct 7) (Oct 10 ) (Oct 12) (Oct 12) (Oct 13)(Oct 17) (Oct 28 ) (Nov 7 ) (Nov 7) (Oct 27)

 

8 Tweets (12%) criticized Hamas 

      Examples:

  • (Nov 14) “We have been persistently advocating on behalf of the hostages held in Gaza. Hostage-taking is prohibited under IHL. They must be released. They must be treated humanely. They must have access to medical care. They must be able to communicate with their loved ones.”
  • (Nov 20) “No child should ever be held captive. We continue to call for the immediate release of all hostages & to check on their condition – especially children, the sick, and the elderly. We stand by ready to facilitate any future release.” 
  • (Oct 13) (Nov 12) (Nov 14) (17 Nov) (Nov 20) (Nov 22) (Nov 25)

 

Mentions

1 Hamas

0 Condemn

19 Hostages (Includes hostage release updates with no criticism)

0 Terror/Terrorism

0 Rocket/Rockets

0 October 7th Massacre

 

Comparative Analysis of Language Used

  • Tweets used emotive and sometimes hyperbolic language to describe the humanitarian situation in Gaza:
    • (Nov 12) “’It’s both heartbreaking and devastating because there are a lot of children, including very young. The youngest we’ve had with burn injuries is a baby of four months’ Dr. Tom Potokar, ICRC chief surgeon, shared with  @IsaCNN the dire situation at hospitals in #Gaza” [devastating, heartbreaking]
    • (Nov 20) “Over 1.5 million people have been displaced in #Gaza. After weeks of relentless bombardment, there is nowhere safe to go.” [relentless]
    • (Nov 7) “In Gaza there is no time to grieve, only to survive. The human suffering we have seen unfold is devastating.” [devastating]

 

  • Statements criticizing Hamas used some emotive language but with less frequency:
    • (Nov 20) “Families of the hostages held in Gaza are enduring unimaginable suffering, as they wait for news from their loved ones.” [unimaginable suffering]
    • (Nov 14) “Communities are yearning for positive news, and we’re doing everything possible – to visit the hostages, to clarify the fate of those unaccounted for, to confirm their health conditions. And to facilitate any future release.” [No emotive language]
  • No statement was ever made that cites Hamas by name, or condemns explicitly or implicitly what occurred on October 7th. 

 

Bottom Line

While statements against Hamas and Israel use emotive language, the ICRC has made 6 times more statements to criticize Israel and has often resorted to hyperbole to cast Israel as a “limitless” destroyer to evoke sympathy for one side and demonize Israel. No statement was made speaking directly about the massacre of October 7th. Beyond language, only 2 statements condemning Hamas include videos and pictures while 38 tweets condemning Israel contain images, graphic testimonies, and videos designed to solicit greater attention and a stronger response. Through their Twitter, it is evident that the ICRC has dedicated large amounts of resources to interviewing doctors and victims in Gaza, to editing infographics and videos, and to appearing on the news to talk about the devastation in Gaza. Comparatively little to no attention was paid to Israeli victims.

 

2. Account Examined: @ICRCpresident 

10 Total Tweets

7 Tweets (70%) focused solely on criticizing Israel

      Examples

  • (Nov 9) “It is intolerable that the catastrophic humanitarian situation has lasted a month; It is unacceptable that it lasts any longer. Today at the Gaza forum I urged States to protect civilians and to ensure the practical implementation of the laws of war.”
  • (Oct 17)”Unbearable scenes of devastation at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza tonight.” 
  • (Oct 11) (Oct 15) (Oct 26) (Nov 10

 

2 Tweets (20%) criticized both sides

      Examples

  • (Oct 10) “We urge the parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and take every possible step to protect civilians.”
  • (Oct 20) “Remaining hostages must be immediately released. We urgently call for a pause in the fighting in Gaza.”

 

1 Tweet (10%) criticized Hamas 

      Examples

  • (Nov 14) “Today I met families of hostages and Israel’s foreign and health ministers. The families’ pain is simply heart-wrenching.”

 

Mentions

0 Hamas

0 Condemn

2 Hostages

0 Terror/Terrorism

0 Rocket/Rockets

0 October 7th Massacre 

 

Comparative Analysis of Language Used

  • Tweets used dramatic language to describe the humanitarian situation in Gaza:
    • (Oct 17) ”Unbearable scenes of devastation at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza tonight.” [unbearable, devasatation]
    • (Nov 9) “It is intolerable that the catastrophic humanitarian situation has lasted a month; It is unacceptable that it lasts any longer.”
    • [intolerable, catastrophic, unacceptable]
  • The statement made to criticize Hamas also uses emotive language:
    • “Today I met families of hostages and Israel’s foreign and health ministers. The families’ pain is simply heart-wrenching.” [heart-wrenching]
  • No statement was ever made that cites Hamas by name, or condemns explicitly or implicitly what occurred on October 7th. 

 

Bottom Line

The ICRC President chose to condemn Israel by itself 7 times in the period analyzed and Hamas just once. She also uses more frequent and stronger emotive language to denounce Israel or express sympathy for Palestine than she does for Israel.  

 

3. Account Examined: @RMardiniICRC

17 Total Tweets

11 Tweets (65%) focused solely on criticizing Israel

      Examples

  • (Nov 11) “ We @ICRC are shocked & appalled by the images & reports coming from Al-Shifa hospital in #Gaza. The unbearably desperate situation for patients & staff trapped inside must stop.”
  • (Oct 28) “The current humanitarian situation for huge numbers of civilians in #Gaza is incompatible with life and dignity and is simply unconscionable.” 
  • (Oct 26) (Oct 22) (Oct 23) (Oct 28) (Oct 20) (Oct 17) (Nov 8) (Oct 28) (Oct 27)

 

6 Tweets (35%) criticized both sides

      Examples

  • (Oct 20) “We @ICRC call for the immediate release of ALL remaining hostages & for urgent humanitarian access to all who need it.”
  • (Oct 14) “Our plea @ICRC & @IFRC to the parties to the conflict in #Israel & #Gaza: put an end to this devastating spiral of suffering, on both sides.”
  • (Nov 2) (Oct 23) (Oct 7) (Oct 10)

 

0 Tweets (0%) criticized Hamas

 

Mentions

0 Hamas

0 Condemn

3 Hostages

0 Terror/Terrorism

0 Rocket/Rockets

0 October 7th Massacre 

 

Comparative Analysis of Language Used

  • Tweets used dramatic language to describe the humanitarian situation in Gaza: 
    • Nov 11: “We @ICRC are shocked & appalled by the images & reports coming from Al-Shifa hospital in #Gaza. The unbearably desperate situation for patients & staff trapped inside must stop.” [shocked, appalled, unbearably desperate
    • Nov 8:  “heartbreaking and terrifying testimony” [heartbreaking, terrifying]
    • Oct 17: “There are no words that can adequately convey the horror of the scenes at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in #Gaza today.” [horror]
  • There are no tweets criticizing only Hamas even implicitly to compare to.

 

Bottom Line

When discussing the horror endured by civilians in Gaza, there are twelve emotional tweets. By contrast, not a single tweet is dedicated to just the victims on the Israeli side. The only tweet on October 7th is the same one as all the other ICRC accounts which does not recognize that Israel was unprovokedly attacked but instead is “alarmed by the dramatic escalation of hostilities…”

 

4. Account Examined: @ICRC_ilot 

26 Total Tweets

17 Tweets (70%) focused solely on criticizing Israel

      Examples

  • (Oct 29) “We are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of the warnings issued to Al Quds @PalestineRCS hospital with patients, health care workers & many families taking shelter there”
  • (Oct 26) “While we are deeply alarmed by the ongoing hostilities in Gaza, the situation in the West Bank has also deteriorated. Since January, 300 people have been killed, making this the deadliest year in the West Bank in over a decade.”
  • (Oct 28) (Oct 28) (Oct 23) (Oct 22) (Oct 14) (Oct 11) (Nov 9) (Nov 8) (Nov 10),(Nov 10) (Nov 7), (Nov 10) (Nov 25) (Nov 19) (Nov 13) (Nov 12)

 

4 Tweet (15%) criticized both sides

      Examples

  • (Oct 25) “Israeli & Palestinian individuals deprived of liberty in the ongoing armed conflict must be treated humanely at all times”
  • (Oct 7) “The ICRC calls on all parties to respect their legal obligations under #IHL.”
  • (Nov 24) (Nov 12)

 

4 Tweets (15%) criticized Hamas 

      Examples

  1. (Nov 20) “From day one, we have called for the immediate release of all the hostages, and for access to them.”
  2. (Nov 7) “One month since the horrific attacks in Israel. Communities are devastated, and families torn apart. We call for the immediate release of all hostages and remain committed to facilitate any further release.”
  3. (Nov 20)(Nov 24

 

Mentions

0 Hamas

1 Condemn

8 Hostages

0 Ceasefire

0 Terror/Terrorism

0 Rocket/Rockets

1 October 7th Massacre 

 

Comparative Analysis of Language Used

  • Most tweets used dramatic language to describe the humanitarian situation in Gaza:
    • (Oct 22) “The scenes of death, destruction & displacement are staggering” [staggering]
    • (Nov 10) “The healthcare system in Gaza has reached a point of no return.” “The destruction affecting hospitals in Gaza has become unbearable and needs to stop.” [unbearable]
  • Only 2 tweets about the hostages use emotive or dramatic language:
    • (Oct 7): “One month since the horrific attacks in Israel. Communities are devastated, families torn apart. We call for the immediate release of all hostages and remain committed to facilitate any further release. We will not give up in our attempt. We will not let families down.” [horrific, devastated]
    • (Nov 20): “Families of the hostages are enduring unimaginable suffering, as they wait for news from their loved ones.”[unimaginable

 

Bottom Line

Although this account posted four tweets that implicitly condemn Hamas by discussing the hostages and one tweet calling the attacks “horrific”, there are nearly 5 times more tweets condemning Israel. Additionally, the tweets condemning Israel not only use dramatic and emotive language but also include pictures, videos, and first-hand testimonies to solicit a stronger response. Additionally, the only tweet made on October 7th did not mention the Hamas massacre at all: rather, the ICRC called “on all parties to respect their legal obligations under IHL.” 

 

5. Account Examined: @FCarboniICRC

7 Total Tweets

6 Tweets (85%) focused solely on criticizing Israel

      Examples

  • (Oct 31) “The Palestinian population can’t take it anymore.”
  • (Oct 9) “During the darkest hours of our presence in #Gaza we never envisaged a scenario where 2 million civilians could possibly live through heavy bombing, deprived of water, food, electricity & medicines.” 
  • (Oct 14) (Oct 18) (Oct 29) (Nov 4)

 

0 Tweets (0%) criticized both sides

 

1 Tweets (14%) criticized Hamas

      Example:

  1. (Oct 8) “In the last 48h many people have gone missing in #Israel. Their families are devastated. We urge authorities in #Gaza to provide the necessary information & to help reunite families as per legal obligations.”

 

Mentions

0 Hamas

0 Condemn

0 Hostages

0 Ceasefire

0 Terror/Terrorism

0 Rocket/Rockets

0 October 7th Massacre 

 

Comparative Analysis of Language Used

  • Dramatic language to discuss the situation in Gaza: 
    • (Oct 9) “During the darkest hours of our presence in #Gaza we never envisaged a scenario where 2 million civilians could possibly live through heavy bombing, deprived of water, food, electricity & medicines.” [darkest hours, heavy bmobing]
    • (Nov 4) Reposts a video testimony of a doctor that details graphic injuries: “There is a huge number of patients, there are a lot of traumatic injuries, particularly burn injuries…”
  • One tweet about the Israeli victims:
    • (Oct 8) “In the last 48h many people have gone missing in #Israel. Their families are devastated. We urge authorities in #Gaza to provide the necessary information & to help reunite families as per legal obligations.”

 

Bottom Line

In his 7 tweets on the war, Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC Regional Director for the Middle East, posted only 1 mentioning Israeli victims, and not a single one condemns Hamas or refers to the Israelis taken as ‘hostages.’ Instead, he describes kidnapped Israelis kidnapped from their home as merely “going missing”. By contrast, in his tweets pointing the finger at Israel, Carboni chooses to add graphic videos and pictures of devastation to elicit a stronger emotional response.

 

6. Account Examined: @MamadouSowICRC

58 Total Tweets

53 Tweets (91%) focused solely on criticizing Israel

      Examples

 

5 Tweets (9%) criticized both sides

      Examples

  • (Oct 13) “Nothing can justify the horrific attacks Israel suffered last weekend… But those attacks cannot in turn justify the limitless destruction of Gaza.”
  • (Oct 10) “All sides must exercise restraint and protect civilian lives and property.”
  • (Oct 8) (Oct 10) (Nov 24)

 

0 Tweets (0%) criticized Hamas 

 

Mentions

0 Hamas

0 Condemn

2 Hostages

2 Ceasefire

0 Terror/Terrorism

0 Rocket/Rockets

0 October 7th Massacre 

 

Comparative Analysis of Language Used

  • Tweets used dramatic and graphic language to describe the humanitarian situation in Gaza:
    • (Nov 4) “Every time a bomb shatters the innocent bodies of children, every time a hospital and an ambulance are targeted, homes reduced to rubble, a family waits for news, for every minute the war in #Gaza goes on, the universe mourns, the stars dim, and our humanity loses a moral weight.
  • He also twice explicitly critiques Israel:
    • (Oct 13) “The instructions issued by #Israeli authorities… coupled with the complete siege explicitly denying them food, water, & electricity, are not compatible with international humanitarian law.”
    • (Oct 16) “We repeat: the instructions issued by the #Israel …”
  • The only tweet with a reference to the Israeli victims does refer to the October 7 attacks as “horrific” but then immediately turns it around to condemn Israel’s attacks on Gaza: 
    • (Oct 13) “Nothing can justify the horrific attacks Israel suffered last weekend… But those attacks cannot in turn justify the limitless destruction of Gaza.”
  • No tweet was made condemning the taking of hostages, only factual updates:
    • (Nov 24) “Separated #Israelis & #Palestinian families are reunited with their loved ones.”
  • The first tweet after the October 7 Massacre is made for both sides:
    • (Oct 8) “We are alarmed by the dramatic escalation in #Israel and #Gaza. We urgently call on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law #IHL and take all feasible precautions to protect and spare civilians and civilian objects” and a photo of a Palestinian child. 

 

The Bottom Line

Mamadou Sow, the head of ICRC for the Gulf region, posted no less than 59 tweets on the war. Yet there is not a single one that only condemns Hamas, the October 7 massacre, or the taking of hostages. In fact, the only tweet that recognizes the massacre is ultimately a criticism of Israel. While he has 5 tweets that recognize that there are victims and perpetrators on both sides, he has 11 times more tweets that solely criticize Israel, explicitly or implicitly. These tweets often use some form of hyperbolic or emotive language and contain videos, images, and audio testimonies for added effect.

UN Watch

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