The Dublin government has been forced to end the transport of munitions for the Israeli Army through Shannon Airport following outrage over the massacre of scores of women and children in Lebanon.
Some 54 innocent civilians, including 37 children, died at the weekend in a single Israeli atrocity in Qana, said to be the site of the first miracle of Christ.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said today he was “shocked and appalled” at the deaths. “Military actions are only making a solution more difficult,” he said.
It was later announced that US aircraft will no longer be allowed to use Irish airports to ship weapons to Israel, although arms shipments to Iraq will continue.
The weaponry with which Israel is inflicting carnage on Lebanon and Gaza is mostly supplied from the US. Apache helicopters and rockets have passed through Shannon in the west of Ireland, en route to Israel from the US.
“In light of the changing situation since the conflict has escalated, any request to transport weapons through Shannon for use in that conflict will be refused. Those flights will not be allowed land in Ireland,” said a Foreign Affairs official today [Monday].
The Irish Anti-War Movement called the Qana strike a “war crime” and accused the 26-County government of “complicity in murder”.
“The Irish government can no longer stand idly by,” said spokesman Richard Boyd Barrett. “At the very least it must condemn this Israeli attrocity, demand an immediate ceasefire and expel the Israeli ambassador.
“As well as this US troops continue to use Shannon on their way to and from the occupation of Iraq in flagrant contravention of Irish neutrality,” he said.
Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness called on the White House and the British government to use their influence with the Israelis to secure an immediate ceasefire.
“The killing of 54 people in Lebanon this morning, including dozens of children marks a new low.”
“There must be a swift response from the International Community. There is a particular responsibility on the US and Britain, as allies of the Israeli authorities.
“The failure of the US to call for a ceasefire for nearly a fortnight and their undermining of the role of the UN have cost the region dearly. They must use their influence with the Israelis to secure an immediate ceasefire.
“Our thoughts are with all those who have been killed in the last few weeks. All efforts must be on securing a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon.”
UN BASE ATTACKED
An Israeli attack that killed four unarmed UN observers has also been strongly condemned in Ireland.
A senior Irish army officer in Lebanon warned Israel six times on Tuesday that its bombs were landing close to a United Nations base. But Israeli authorities ignored the warnings and later struck the southern Lebanon UN base, killing four observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland.
Irish observers who are frequently stationed at the base were fortunate to be deployed eslewhere at the time of the attack.
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said the air strike on the base had been “apparently deliberate”.
Nevertheless, up to 200 Irish soldiers could be sent to the Lebanon if a ceasefire backed by a political deal is established, Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea said yesterday.
And in a widely welcomed move, foreign minister Dermot Ahern summoned Israeli ambassador Daniel Megiddo to a meeting at the weekend prior to the Qana massacre.
“We instanced our grave disquiet at what has happened,” said Mr Ahern.
“As far as we were concerned, from this incident and other pieces of evidence brought to us from personnel on the ground, Israel is at the very least reckless in this region.
“The ambassador is under no illusion about the feeling of Ireland in this respect.”