Thursday 25 August 2016

Sanctions needed to stop Israel's slaughter of the innocents

Published 26/07/2014 | 02:30

A Palestinian child wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a UN school in Beit Hanoun at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya (AP)
A Palestinian child wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a UN school in Beit Hanoun at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya (AP)

THE latest onslaught by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on Gaza, a stretch of land the size of Co Dublin with a population of 1.7 million, is the third time since 2009 that the IDF has invaded Gaza.

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Israel's latest assault on Gaza has so far led to over 700 civilians being killed, including over 200 children, while less than 40 Israelis have been killed, the vast majority of whom were members of the IDF. This is akin to a person 'defending' their home against stones being thrown at it by burning down their neighbour's house and killing everyone in it. Also the IDF has attacked UN buildings, including schools, which have been used to house almost 150,000 Gazan refugees and have even killed UN employees.

Israel has continually ignored numerous UN resolutions condemning its treatment of the Palestinian people, especially Resolution 242, passed by the UN General Assembly, which calls upon Israel to withdraw its forces to its original 1967 borders, which would also bring to an end its illegal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel's latest actions have led to the UN investigating the state for war crimes against the Gazan civilian population.

Israel's blockade of Gaza has led to the slow strangulation of a people.

According to Amnesty International, Israel's actions have resulted in "mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages leaving four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid", and it has criticised Israel's blockade as "a form of collective punishment, a flagrant violation of international law". Israel is a racist state punishing the Palestinian people for having voted Hamas into power and is supported by the US to the tune of $3bn (€2.27bn) a year.

Various groups, including the Irish Anti-war Movement, have long been calling on Ireland to boycott Israeli goods and for the removal of Israel's position as a favoured trading partner with the EU.

Cultural links with Israel should also be cut, along with the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. These are the kind of actions that helped to bring about the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Peace will only ultimately come to this part of the world by the establishment of a joint Israeli/Palestinian secular state where the democratic rights and the equality of all citizens are respected.




* Is the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), whose mandate is supposedly to promote and protect human rights around the world, anything other than a toothless and useless talking shop?

This body, since it came into being in 2006, has passed more than 50 resolutions condemning Israel. The cumulative number of condemnatory resolutions directed at Israel is greater than the number of resolutions condemning all the other nations of the world combined – but not one of them has proven to be a catalyst for progress in the region.

Ireland and eight other member states of the European Union are current members of its governing council, but the voice of these EU member states was ominously silent in Geneva on July 23 when they abstained from the vote taken on a resolution that was passed by a majority and is intended to reinforce respect for international law, in response to the latest lethal, bloody and savage conflict between Israel and Hamas. These EU member states were following the direction of the European Union, which is not a member of the UNHRC in its own right. The UNHRC received $122m (€90.7m) in voluntary contributions last year, including over $50m (€37.21m), or 42pc of the total received, from individual member states of the European Union and that included a contribution of $2,618,581 (€2m) from Ireland.

The EU and the US each contributed $13m (€9.6m), or 11pc of the total voluntary contributions. The contribution from Israel was $25,000 (€18,600) and from Egypt, for whom Irish diplomacy expressed a particularly high regard as a regional peace-broker, was a mere $5,000 (€3,700).

Why should Irish taxpayers contribute to the UNHRC when the sentiment of Irish people is suffocated by faceless bureaucrats in the EU on matters of particular concern to them and Irish diplomacy has apparently no direct influence?

Secondly, what weight, if any, does the UNHRC carry in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, apart from publishing soothing statements that protagonists routinely oppose or blatantly disregard? The current Egyptian regime has not demonstrated much regard for Hamas and has made this known through its media; nor has it committed much financial resources to the UNHRC.




* The Government's decision not to support an international inquiry into Israel's actions in Gaza is of serious concern.

The appalling situation in Gaza has led to an unacceptable loss of life. The conflict has killed over 700 of which approximately 170 are children. This is utterly shameful and should be fully investigated.

As the death toll continues to rise, I believe that questions now arise from Ireland's decision to abstain in a UN Human Rights Council vote on whether to investigate Israel's offensive in Gaza.

I have written to Ireland's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, ambassador Patricia O'Brien, seeking an explanation for this decision and requested information as to what diplomatic efforts we as a nation are deploying to contribute to a resolution to the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. I have also written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, seeking clarity on the matter and what consultations took place ahead of this decision.

The assault on Gaza has had a devastating effect on the civilian population and majority of victims have been women and children. We have a moral duty to protect the most vulnerable and to ensure that human rights abuses are not ignored.




* When the current flare-up of the Hamas/Israeli conflict ends, the only thing achieved will have been a great loss of life. Sadly, many of those killed would have been oblivious as to whether they were Palestinian or Israeli simply because they would have been too young to know. Only the body count distinguishes between the indiscriminate targeting of civilians by Hamas and Israel's ineffectual 'pinpointing' of targets in Gaza where the death tally is 80pc civilian. But we will continue on with our lives as usual while this chaos carries on not far from the border of a EU country.




* Enda Kenny and Joan Burton are to be complimented for their very progressive ministerial reshuffle.

We are now served by a Cabinet that includes four first-term TDs. Seven junior ministers are first-term TDs. One minister is in his 20s and four are in their 30s.

Alan Hansen, in his last column as a football analyst (When I work with Rio Ferdinand and see Twitter I knew it was time to retire, Irish Independent, July 15) said his only career regret is saying of Manchester United in August '95: "You can't win anything with kids." Fergie's Fledglings went on to win consecutive league/FA Cup doubles.



Irish Independent

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