Demonstration planned in Dublin today as death toll rises to 37 in Gaza
Reports from the respected Palestinian Center For Human Rights in Gaza confirm that at least 37 people have now died in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Israel breached a ceasefire brokered by Egypt on Wednesday 14th November. 8 children and 2 women are among the dead. A further 280 have been injured in the bombardment from air, land and sea.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has called for a demonstration at The Spire on O’Connell St. in Dublin at 2pm. Yesterday the campaign issued a statement expressing its disappointment at the Tánaiste’s uncritical acceptance of the official Israeli narrative of events leading up to the beginning of the Israeli attack on Gaza.
Last night we spoke with Gisela Schmidt Martin, an Irish graduate of International Law at NUI Galway who is working with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza. Speaking in a personal capacity, she told us that, “it must be emphasised that the root cause of the violence in the region is the on-going belligerent occupation of the occupied Palestinian territory by Israel. Furthermore, far from fulfilling military necessity, as required under international humanitarian law, Israel’s attacks on the people of Gaza are disproportionate and indiscriminate. Gaza is sealed off from the outside world. There are no air raid warnings or bomb shelters and nowhere is safe from attack. It is clear that the people of Gaza have no safe haven.”
Ms. Schmidt Martin continued: “In light of Ireland’s much-celebrated election to the UN Human Rights Council, I would urge the Tánaiste and the Irish government to call on Israel to fulfil its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.”
The IPSC has called for an immediate end to the use of disproportionate force and collective punishment by Israel and an end to the on-going siege of Gaza. For the last five years Gaza has been subjected to a siege and embargo by Israel, in violation of international law. Furthermore, despite Israel’s unilateral withdrawal of its illegal settlements in Gaza in 2005, Gaza’s status under International Humanitarian Law remains that of an Occupied Territory. This means that Palestinians are a protected people, whose de facto imprisonment constitutes in itself an on-going condition of belligerence and violence imposed by Israel. As the Occupying Power, Israel is under an obligation to take all necessary measures to protect the civilian population of the occupied territory.
IPSC Spokesperson Freda Hughes called for, “a campaign of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. We want our government to hold Israel accountable to the terms of the Euro-Med Agreement which grants it preferential trading status, but entirely is conditional on “respect for human rights”, which constitutes “an essential element of this Agreement”. We also call for an end to all Irish and EU arms trade with that country. In light of the situation in Gaza we ask the government to take the necessary steps to ensure that no Irish state-funded institution engages in any cultural, academic, or economic cooperation with the state of Israel or its associated institutions; and to support the cessation of all grants to Israel made under the EU’s framework programme for research.”
Ms. Hughes continued, saying “this is not a conflict of equals. Israel can act with impunity because it is in a position of power while Palestinians are in a position of relative weakness. If one accepts that talks are necessary to provide a genuine road to a just peace, then it is obvious there must be some degree of parity between negotiating parties. The IPSC believes that BDS offers international civil society a peaceful means to help achieve this parity. BDS enables us to pressure the Israeli state to show that its actions have repercussions internationally and that it is no longer acceptable for it to act as it does. On this basis we believe that BDS can have only a positive role in laying the ground work for future genuine negotiations on a more or less level playing field.”