Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
التضامن الإيرلندي الفلسطيني

Take Action: Gaza’s Covid-19 Crisis means Irish government must call for Israel’s siege to end

As Covid-19 cases in Gaza number 9, with a sense dread and urgency we ask for your support in raising this issue with the Irish government.

We fully understand that the Irish government’s priority right now is necessarily with slowing the spread and flattening the curve, and building capacity in our health system to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and to try to save as many lives as possible, and we wish all those working on this the very best and hope for as much success as possible. In some senses, having a strong and developed state, we in Ireland are ‘lucky’ in this regard.

However, people in other regions may not be not so ‘lucky’, and with the disastrous news that the Gaza Strip in Palestine has, to date, nine confirmed cases of Covid-19, as a matter of extreme urgency, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) is calling on our supporters to write to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, to demand an end to Israel’s decades-long cruel and illegal blockade of Gaza, and for the immediate provision of all necessary medical supplies to the people of Palestine.

The Minister’s email address is simon.coveney@oir.ie

We are also asking Twitter users to also tweet at the Minister during a TwitterStorm on Palestinian Land Day, 30th March – see here for details and sample tweets.

Experience has shown that it’s more effective to write your own messages – no matter how short or long – rather than copy and pasting a generic text. So while we ask you to compose your own email, here are some tips (and you can see a copy of the letter the IPSC sent at the end of this page).

  • Always be respectful, no matter your personal opinion of the parties or individual politicians.
  • Be as brief as you can, and note that you understand that they are receiving huge amounts of correspondence every day due to people’s fears about the Covid-19 pandemic and containment measures.
  • Note that although the Covid19 Pandemic is obviously the most urgent matter facing the Irish government right now, Covid-19 affects everyone on the planet and Dr. Mike Ryan of the WHO has put it when calling for global solidarity to fight the pandemic, we are “only as strong as the weakest link” and “none of us are safe until all of us are safe“.
  • In Gaza, 2 million people live in one of the most densely populated areas of the planet, they live in overcrowded dwellings and social distancing is difficult if not impossible.
  • Gaza was already facing a healthcare emergency with severe shortages of essential drugs, medical devices and personnel – there are only 40 ICU beds and a massive shortage of testing kits.
  • 13 years of illegal siege and frequent brutal military assaults have resulted in 2 million people existing in a situation of desperate overcrowding in cramped environments and dire living conditions, including severely limited electricity supply, mass malnutrition and with only one in 10 households having direct access to safe water.
  • The siege of Gaza must end. It is cruel, illegal and incredibly dangerous. Furthermore, as the occupying power, it is Israel’s legal duty under international law to provide for the well-being of the Palestinian people.
  • Ireland can take the lead in trying to protect the extremely vulnerable people of Gaza by calling for an immediate lifting of the illegal blockade of Gaza, for the immediate provision of medical supplies, for the healthcare workers there to be adequately resourced, and that you urge your EU counterparts to do likewise

We ask you to please take a few minutes to make this important contact with the Irish government to let them know that even in the midst of global tragedy, and uncertainty and fear here at home, you have not forgotten about the people of Palestine as they face into an unthinkable crisis – and neither should they!

Click here to the letter to IPSC sent to the Minister our letter

Dear Minister Coveney,

We write to you with a sense dread and urgency. We fully understand that the Irish government’s priority right now is necessarily with slowing the spread and flattening the curve, and building capacity in our health system to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and to try to save as many lives as possible, and we wish all those working on this the very best and hope for as much success as possible. In some senses, having a strong and developed state, we in Ireland are ‘lucky’ in this regard.

However, people in other regions may not be not so ‘lucky’, and with the disastrous news that the Gaza Strip in Palestine has, to date, nine confirmed cases of Covid-19, as a matter of extreme urgency, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) is calling on you to demand an end to Israel’s decades-long cruel and illegal blockade of Gaza, and for the immediate provision of all necessary medical supplies to the people of Palestine.

We also ask that your Office’s international influence to call on EU Foreign Ministers to demand the lifting of the blockade, literally as a matter of life or death. As you know from your own visit to Gaza last December, living conditions there are dire, with the United Nations declaring that the besieged territory would be unliveable by this year. Indeed you yourself described the “awful conditions” in Gaza and said that “people shouldn’t have to live like this.”

Even before the onset of this pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) data clearly shows that Israel has been denying the two million Palestinians in Gaza the right to health. International humanitarian law decrees that, as the occupying power, Israel must ensure the health of the population in Gaza, something it clearly does not do.

The healthcare system in Gaza is already in a state of collapse and simply does not have the capacity to cope with the Covid-19 crisis. Shortages of essential drugs, medical devices and personnel mean the system cannot meet the health needs of the people there under ‘normal’ circumstances, nevermind during a pandemic crisis.

Even as it stands, many patients in Gaza requiring healthcare which they are unable to access in their own system must obtain permission from the Israeli authorities to travel to access care; as you know, such permission is regularly refused and requests ignored. This situation is already untenable and deeply damaging to the community there.

Over a decade of illegal siege and frequent brutal military assaults have resulted in 2 million people existing in a situation of desperate overcrowding in cramped environments and dire living conditions, including severely limited electricity supply, mass malnutrition and with only one in 10 households having direct access to safe water, something you are very aware of having pledged Irish investment in a water treatment plant there.

Israel’s siege has prevented the Ministry of Health in Gaza from importing vital medical devices and even parts to repair malfunctioning ones. There are only 40 ICU beds in Gaza and there is an urgent need for medicines, respirators, PPE and ICU capacity, and, crucially, testing kits. There are currently 2,500 people in quarantine, all of whom need to be tested, however there are only around 200 testing kits available in Gaza. The siege must be lifted to allow for these necessary supplies to enter in order to save people’s lives.

The overcrowded living conditions there, coupled with huge unemployment mean that social distancing is virtually impossible in Gaza and, as Jamie McGoldrick, UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory has warned, could turn it into “an incubator, especially when people get stuck in a densely populated area where health system suffers from the lack of funding, medical resources and equipment”.

If the international community continues to abandon the Palestinians in Gaza, the consequences will be catastrophic. Yet this outcome is preventable. Ireland can take the lead in trying to protect these extremely vulnerable people. We realise that the government is very busy with trying to manage the Covid-19 outbreak in Ireland, however, as Doctor Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, has said when calling for global solidarity to fight the pandemic, we are “only as strong as the weakest link” and “none of us are safe until all of us are safe”. If we are truly all in this together, we must ensure that we stand with the most defenceless of us and do all we can to protect each other.

We ask that you call for an immediate lifting of the illegal blockade of Gaza, for the immediate provision of medical supplies, for the healthcare workers there to be adequately resourced, and that you urge your EU counterparts to do likewise. We thank you for your time and action on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Fatin Al Tamimi
Chairperson
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

TWITTERSTORM ACTION

Between 5pm and 8pm Irish time on Palestinian Land Day, Monday 30th March 2020, there will be a global TwitterStorm for Palestine. We are asking our supporters to take part, in particular to tweet at the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney). You can also take pictures of yourself with Palestinian flags or messages of support and solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Below are some sample tweets you send to the Minister

Apartheid Israel denies the right to health of Palestinians in Gaza. The healthcare system there is in a state of collapse.  Now #coronavirus has arrived. Please @simoncoveney you must call for an end to the illegal blockade. #EndtheSiege #Gaza #Palestine

Please @simoncoveney call for an end to Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza.  None of us are safe until all of us are safe. We are all #InThisTogether, time to practise real international solidarity, let’s  ensure the Palestinians in Gaza are not abandoned. #coronavirus #EndtheSiege #Gaza #Palestine

We must not forget our Palestinian sisters & brothers in Gaza.  Already under illegal siege by apartheid Israel, now their devastated healthcare system has #coronavirus to contend with.  Please @simoncoveney you must call for an end to the illegal blockade. #EndtheSiege #Gaza #BDS

2 million Palestinians in Gaza denied freedom of movement, healthcare, clean water,  electricity, their basic rights. Now #coronavirus has reached an already devastated health system.  Please @simoncoveney you must call for an end to the illegal blockade.  #EndtheSiege #Gaza

According to the WHO Gaza does not have the capacity to cope with this health crisis of #coronavirus Apartheid Israel’s illegal siege has decimated the healthcare system & all infrastructure. @simoncoveney you must call for an end to the illegal blockade.  #EndtheSiege #Gaza

The Palestinians in Gaza have the same right to healthcare as everyone in the world but apartheid Israel’s siege mean we are not all #InThisTogether for #coronavirus Please @simoncoveney you must call for an end to the illegal siege  #EndtheSiege #Gaza #PalestineLandDay

Palestinians in Gaza have shown immense courage in the face of Israeli military attack to demand their Right of Return to their homeland. Time to stand with them in the face of #coronavirus. @simoncoveney call for an end to the illegal siege  #EndtheSiege #Gaza #PalestineLandDay

Our solidarity with the Palestinian people is more crucial than ever now that they have #coronavirus to contend with.  To be #InThisTogether support the boycott of apartheid Israel, call for an end to the siege of #Gaza #BDS #EndtheSiege

Supporters of freedom & justice for Palestine please ask @simoncoveney to call for an end to apartheid Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza & to push EU foreign ministers to do same. With #coronavirus there it’s a matter of urgency #Gaza #BDS #EndtheSiege

Palestinians must be protected from #coronavirus. The child prisoners,  prisoners, people in Gaza, Bedouins in the Naqab are especially vulnerable.  Call for their release, the siege to be lifted, proper healthcare facilities for all #Palestine #Gaza #EndtheSiege #PalestineLandDay

 

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