Thousands have demonstrated in Ireland against the continuing Israeli invasion of Gaza amid mounting calls for the Israeli ambassador to be expelled and economic sanctions against Israel.
Almost two thousand took to the streets of Dublin to protest against Israel’s military assault, while an even larger crowd marched in Belfast in protest at Israel’s continued shelling of refugee shelters and civilian targets.
Some 1,100 Palestians have died in the invasion dubbed ‘Operation Cast Lead’, including hundreds of children, while over five thousand have been injured.
On the Israeli side just 13 people have died, including three civilians and four soldiers accidentally killed by their own troops.
Some of the fiercest bombing of Israel’s 16-day military campaign in Gaza occurred yesterday around Gaza city.
Global condemnation reached a crescendo this week with the Israeli attack on the headquarters of the UN’s humanitarian mission in Gaza, where hundreds of Palestinian civilians were sheltering. White phosphorous, an incendiary material designed to start fires and cause serious burns or death, was used in the attack.
The incident was one of a series of attacks directed against refugee shelters which have left hundreds of casualties.
Nine Israeli human rights groups have now joined the global outrage by writing to their government warning of their “heavy suspicion ... of grave violations of international humanitarian law by military forces”.
The Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Mr Zion Evron, was asked to appear at an emergency meeting of the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee this week.
In a heated debate, the ambassador and the Palestinian Delegate General to Ireland, Dr Hikmat Ajjuri, gave presentations about the conflict and took questions from TDs and Senators.
Sinn Féin Dail deputy Aengus O Snodaigh condemned the Israeli ambassador for making attempts to justify the atrocities in Gaza.
He said Mr Evrony had used the meeting to propogate “propaganda, twisted logic and half truths”.
He said: “I think Goebbels would have been proud of it.”
The ambassador later said Mr O Snodaigh’s comments were “outrageous” and asked him to apologise. Mr O Snodaigh said: “You won’t get an apology from me anyway.”
CALL FOR BOYCOTT
In Belfast, some of the protesters at a peace march in Belfast later entered two stores that had Israeli goods on sale and removed them.
“One of the key elements that ended apartheid in South Africa was the widespread boycott of South African goods,” a spokesperson for Republican group Eirigi said.
“This is what needs to happen in relation to Israel.”
In Derry up to 70 people from the Derry Anti-War Coalition (DAWC) staged a protest outside the premises of arms manufacturer Raytheon.
They blocked workers from entering the building in Springtown for a period before the protest ended peacefully.
APPEAL FOR DIALOGUE
Speaking in Dublin at a rally organized in support of the people of Gaza, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams demanded that the international community match hard words with strong action.
“Each day we have watched in growing outrage as the people of Gaza are subjected to a brutal military assault and occupation that has left almost a thousand dead - hundreds of them children.
“The haunting images of homes wrecked, of terrified families existing among rubble in shock and despair, and of endless funerals, has rightly outraged people across the world. Caithfidh deireadh a theacht le seo anois!!
“It is time all of this was brought to an end.
Mr Adams said all democratic mandates must be respected, and this meant direct talks should take place between the two sides.
“It is the only way to agree a negotiated peace settlement - it is the only realistic way to end the decades of war and injustice.”
* A day of action is to take place in Belfast tomorrow with collections in aid of the charity, Irish Medical Aid for Palestine, along with a white line picket on the Falls Road.