Irish Citizens in Gaza call for Diplomatic Pressure to Halt Israeli Attacks
On November 14th Israel launched ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’ on the population of Gaza. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has confirmed that 13 people have been killed including 2 children and a pregnant woman and a further 115 have been injured since yesterday. The bombardment has taken the form of airstrikes, mortars from land and shelling from the sea. There have been over 150 strikes in total. In reality this is just the continuation of a week of military assaults on Gaza which in total have already left at least 19 people dead, including 5 children, and scores wounded. An Israeli military spokesperson said this is was the beginning of a “widespread campaign” on Gaza.
Two Irish citizens are currently in Gaza and both have called on the Irish government and the international community to take urgent action to stop this unlawful aggression against Palestinian civilians. Gisela Schmidt Martin, humanitarian aid worker, and Greg Manahan, film maker, have both been living and working in Gaza in recent months. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) support their call and ask our government to take decisive action to condemn the actions of the Israeli state and end the impunity with which it operates once and for all.
Yesterday’s attack saw the extrajudicial assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari, chief of staff of Hamas’ military wing. However, this escalation in violence came after Israel broke a two-week lull in violence when they invaded Gaza on November 8th. During an incursion near Kahn Yunis, a 13-year-old boy was killed by an Israeli bullet while he played soccer. By November 11th, 5 more Palestinians had been killed and many more injured while 9 Israelis were also injured. On November 12th, Palestinian militant resistance groups agreed to a truce and virtually all attacks were stopped. During an Israeli government cabinet meeting, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz urged the government to “cut off the head of the snake… take out the leadership of Hamas in Gaza.” He also called for a cutting off of water, food, electricity, and fuel shipments to Gaza’s 1.7 million people. On November 14th Israel broke the cease fire after only two days. This breach of cease fire is reminiscent of Israel’s actions prior to Operation Cast Lead in 2008 when it violated a ceasefire with Hamas and other Gaza-based militant groups that had been in place since June, launching an operation that killed six Hamas members. Militant groups responded by launching rockets into southern Israel, which Israel shortly thereafter used to justify its devastating military assault on the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud political party recently merged its Electoral List with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party led by the country’s radically right-wing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Political commentators in Israel have suggested that the current attack on Gaza is motivated by Netanyahu’s need to appease his electorate in the south of Israel and appear tough in advance of the January 2013 parliamentary elections. In a statement issued yesterday he stated that, “if need be, the IDF is prepared to expand the operation.”
IPSC Spokesperson Freda Hughes said: “Operation Pillar of Cloud is yet another Israeli use of disproportionate force against civilians in Gaza. This attack has happened just two months prior to the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead which left over 1,400 people dead. The people of Gaza must not be continually subjected to collective punishment, which goes against international law. We call on all people of conscience to contact their local politicians and ask the Irish government to take meaningful concrete steps, such as calling for Israel’s suspension from the Euromed Agreement, which gives Israel special trading status; ending all arms trade with Israel; ensuring that no Irish state-funded institution engages in any cultural, academic, or economic cooperation with the state of Israel or its associated institutions; and ceasing all grants to Israel made under the EU’s framework programme for research. Ireland, which assumes the presidency of the EU in January, can and should be an effective voice in Europe to pressure Israel until it complies fully with international law and respects the human and political rights of the Palestinian people.”
Ms Hughes went on to say: “Ireland has just been granted a seat on the UN Human Rights Council beginning in January 2013. This is a great privilege for Ireland and will put the country in a position of power and responsibility. The state has a legal and moral obligation to protect the human rights of the people of Palestine in advance of taking its seat on the council.”
Demonstrations today around Ireland
A number of demonstrations have been called in response to the assault for later today:
Dublin – 5.30pm @ Israeli Embassy, 122 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Cork – 6.00pm @ Daunt Square, Cork City
Limerick – 6.15pm @ Thomas Street, Limerick
Belfast – 7.00pm @ City Hall, Belfast