Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
التضامن الإيرلندي الفلسطيني

IPSC responds to Tánaiste’s Gaza statement, calls for concrete action to end Israeli assault

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) is extremely disappointed by today’s statement from An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, on the situation in Gaza[1]. The Tánaiste’s statement accepts uncritically the official Israeli narrative of events leading up to the beginning of the Israeli attack. Several timeline analyses have shown that it was Israel that broke one lull in violence by killing a 13-year-old child playing football on 8th November, and again on Wednesday 14th violated an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire by extra-judicially assassinating a leading member of Hamas and bombing 20 areas in Gaza in an action it knew would provoke a response[2].

Human rights organisations – such as the internationally respected Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al Haq and the Al Mezan Center For Human Rights[3] – report that Israel is bombing Gaza indiscriminately. Civilians, being the main casualties, have borne the brunt of this assault. There have been numerous attacks on civilian dwellings, infrastructure and institutions resulting in at least 10 deaths and over 250 injuries of civilians[4]. This amounts to collective punishment of the population, which is a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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 ongoing 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. According to the rules of International Humanitarian Law, the Israeli military must at all times distinguish between civilian and military targets. In addition, Israel must adhere to the principle of proportionality, which states that any attack that may be expected to cause loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.

The IPSC appreciates that the Tánaiste has called for an end to the attacks. However, the IPSC asserts that, far from being a conflict of equals, Israel is the belligerent party in this assault and that, to end both the attacks and the ongoing illegal blockade of Gaza, concrete steps are urgently required. The principal such step should be for the government to call for the suspension of Israel from the Euro-Med Agreement, under which it is granted special EU trading privileges conditional on “respect for human rights” which constitutes “an essential element of this Agreement”.

The very fact that Israel has faced no sanction from the international community for its frequent and flagrant human rights abuses against the Palestinian people has resulted in this current assault. Israel commits crimes with impunity. This intolerable situation must end now.

[1] See http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=88779
[2] For example: The Institute for Middle East Understanding timeline; respected journalist and author Ali Abunimah’s analysis
[3] PCHR; Al Haq; Al Mezan
[4] According to PCHR