Irish group’s cautious welcome for Gaza ceasefire
A CESSATION of the assault on Gaza is to be welcomed, but we must ensure it brings a just and lasting peace and an end to the siege of the Palestinian territory, Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) said today.
“The people of Gaza have been traumatised by seven weeks of constant bombardment, death and injury, displacement and wanton destruction of their homes and most of their infrastructure and on that basis we welcome any respite from Israel’s violence,” GAI coordinator Zoe Lawlor said.
“However, this is the third occasion in six years that Gaza has been subjected to sustained attack by Israel, with devastating results,” Lawlor added. “The damage to Gaza’s infrastructure is worse than that in 1967. According to military analysts, the explosive power of the bombs was equal to the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima.”
Lawlor continued: “We in Gaza Action Ireland mourn the barbaric loss of life, with over 2,100 Palestinians dead, around 500 of whom were children. The psychological trauma caused by the attack cannot be underestimated and the scars will stay with the living forever.”
Mags O’Brien, another GAI coordinator, said: “The full terms of the ceasefire are as yet unclear but seem to be little more than previous ceasefire agreements, which failed to address the root causes of the ongoing conflict, that of Israel’s stranglehold control over every aspect of life in the Gaza Strip and, more fundamentally, the future and the autonomy of an independent state of Palestine.
“History is doomed to repeat itself unless these issues are finally addressed,” O’Brien said. “The world cannot close its eyes to the problem. Moreover, unless the blockade is finally and completely dismantled, the danger remains that there will be yet another murderous onslaught by Israel on this tiny stretch of overpopulated land and on a people that have suffered devastating trauma.”
O’Brien said she hoped the widespread Irish support for Gaza during this conflict would continue past the ceasefire: “The thousands upon thousands in Ireland who marched, protested and publicly called for an end to the devastation in Gaza, and for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador, must continue to support the call for a just solution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine.”
GAI strongly supports the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. “Isolation is a powerful weapon, as was evidenced in South Africa,” Lawlor said. “We call on the Irish Government to ban all Israeli imports and to call within the EU for suspension of Israel’s privileged trading status on human-rights grounds. Israel must not be granted impunity for its war crimes against the Palestinian people and must be held accountable.
“We wish to send all our solidarity and respect to the people of Gaza whose resilience and resistance is incredible. The illegal Israeli siege of Gaza must be ended immediately and permanently,” Lawlor concluded.
Gaza Action Ireland, which grew out of the Irish Ship to Gaza initiative, is a solidarity group that organises civil-society contacts between Ireland and Palestinians in the Gaza strip. It is responsible for the Windows Into Gaza art exhibition that is currently touring Ireland, and it is planning to bring a team of young footballers from Gaza to play here. In addition to artists and sports clubs, it has also forged links with fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.