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The Palestinian Authority officially informed the International Red Cross yesterday that it regards the IRC as being responsible for the well-being of brother and sister Kifah and Intisar Ajouri, expelled from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip by Israel for helping their brother Ali to carry out a suicide attack.

The letter to the organization is signed by Hisham Abd al-Razek, a senior member of Fatah who is in charge of the Palestinian Economic Commission for Prisoner and Former Prisoner Affairs. He once was an inmate in an Israeli prison.

Razek visited the Ajouri siblings at Red Cross headquarters in Gaza, where they have sought shelter since being expelled from the West Bank on Wednesday.

Under the Geneva Convention, the International Red Cross is obligated to assist civilians in wartime and must respond to the request for shelter, say the Palestinians.

The IRC has still not formulated a legal stance on the status of the two but allowed them to remain on the site.

Senior Palestinian officials have been visiting the Ajouris and sat in the protest tent set up in the yard of the Red Cross building, promising to keep it manned.