The "Red Crystal" will make its debut Sunday as an additional emblem that can be used to protect relief workers in combat when they don't wish to use either the Red Cross or Red Crescent.
The emblem was designed as part of complicated, long-running negotiations to include Israel in the Red Cross movement withoutgiving the red shield used by Israel's Magen David Adom society — similar to the star on the Israeli flag — the same status as the cross and crescent, which have been used by medics on the battlefield for more than a century.
Red Cross officials conceded Friday it will take time before the crystal — a red square frame standing on one corner — will be widely enough known that medics will be able to work under it on the battlefield without fear of being targeted by one side or the other.
"We have no indication at the moment that anybody is going to start using it" immediately, said Antonella Notari, chief spokeswoman of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"It's legally now a protective emblem, but there's a lot of work to be done for it to be in reality and concretely a protective emblem because it needs to be known in the field and respected," she told The Associated Press.
Any national society in the international Red Cross movement will be able to use the crystal if it wants. Military medics for any country also will be able to display it instead of the cross or crescent. In combat, the crystal is supposed to stand alone, but for fundraising and identification purposes at home, asociety such as the Israeli organization could put its own emblem inside the frame.
The simple red cross on a white background — the reversal of colours of the Swiss flag — was adopted as the emblem of the movement when it was founded in 1863 by Swiss humanitarians trying to care for battlefield casualties who otherwise would have been left to suffer.