A small representative group of the Trade Union Friends of Palestine gathered on 15th May 2021 at the James Connolly Memorial to protest the current bombing in Gaza and illegal evictions in East Jerusalem. Sadly, this is not the first protest we have had to take part in regarding Palestine, and many of our members have witnessed first-hand the apartheid treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government. While they maintain that their current actions are justified because of rocket fire from Gaza, they neglect to point out the following.
The decade to the end of 2019 saw 3,601 Palestinians killed and 101,897 injured, Israeli casualties for the same period were 203 deaths and 4,700 injuries (Source: UNOCHA).
There has been a blockade on Gaza since 2007 and Israel controls most of the crossings (Egypt controls Rafah) with permission needed to enter or exit, so in effect the vast majority of the over two million population cannot leave, cannot visit relatives in the rest of Palestine, often are prevented from leaving to attend hospital appointments, sporting fixtures etc.
Prior to the latest outbreak of hostilities, unemployment was over 45% in Gaza, border restrictions having virtually decimated agricultural exports.
Israel has again declared closure of the sea, leaving 4,600 fishermen and 700 associated workers unemployed, depriving their 27,000 dependents of support.
The Erez crossing has again been closed, which is further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which was at a critical juncture even prior to COVID.
In Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinians have been wounded, including eight journalists and several paramedics and armed forces have stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, attacking praying Palestinians.
Much of the current unrest has been the result of the illegal actions of the Israeli government with the proposed eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and the bulldozing of homes in Silwan.
These proposed evictions constitute a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law and the laws of war. They are in direct and deliberate violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that the occupying power of a territory is not permitted to alter the demographic character of that territory; is not permitted to forcibly displace civilians under its protection; is not permitted to transfer part of its civilian population to a territory it occupies; and is not permitted to permanently change the character of the territory it administers.
Ireland, as a member of the UN Security Council which prides itself on its diplomatic abilities, must speak out in condemnation of the extreme and disproportionate actions of the Israeli forces. It is not sufficient to, yet again, call for diplomacy at the occupying forces’ repeated violation of human rights, the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, and the constant erosion of Palestinian land demand a robust response; Israel must be strongly condemned but must also suffer sanctions.
The UN must bear in mind that the Oslo Agreements called for a permanent settlement of unresolved issues within five years, based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Some 26 years later the issues remain unresolved and Palestinian Territories are eroded at an ever-increasing pace, thus eliminating any prospect of a just and peaceful settlement. The UN can no longer sit idly by, if it does, it ceases to have any moral authority in the world.