Gaza’s Bloody Friday

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There has been an outcry in Ireland after more than sixteen Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip on Friday as Israel used snipers and other weaponry against tens of thousands of demonstrators who had gathered along the Gaza-Israel boundary.

Nearly 1,500 were injured, nearly half by live fire, according to a report by Electronic Intifada. Twenty were said to be in critical condition.

Disturbing video emerged of Palestinian youths being shot at by Israeli snipers near the Gaza boundary. Israeli forces claimed the youths could have posed a threat to the boundary fence, one of the most heavily militarised in the world, with rubber tyres.

Sinn Fein condemned the Israeli actions and organised a ‘day of action’ with protests set for this afternoon [Saturday] in Derry and Belfast.

“Palestinians were taking part in legitimate protests at the border when they were fired upon by the Israeli military,” said Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson.

“Statements from the Israeli military are reminiscent of those of the British army after the murders on Bloody Sunday.”

The Gaza-based human rights group Al Mezan confirmed the deaths of eight protesters on Friday, all killed by live fire. Two protesters were killed in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, two in northern Gaza, while East of Gaza City, Israeli forces killed four protesters.

Another of those killed on Friday was a farmer who died when Israeli forces fired artillery shells at him while he was on his land, more than 700 meters from the boundary fence, in southern Gaza.

“What happened today in Gaza was nothing short of a massacre and the international community needs to act to prevent further loss of life and respond with robust action against Israel,” Ms Anderson said.

“There is a responsibility on the international community and the EU in particular to defend Palestinians and to challenge Israeli aggression.”

Tents have been erected at five locations along Gaza’s eastern boundary for a six-week protest that will end on the 15 May, when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, the mass expulsion that preceded and followed the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948. Israel has denied Palestinians from returning to the land from which they were expelled, contrary to international law.

It dropped tear gas grenades from drones as the protest gathered before opening fire.

CATALAN REPRESSION

Sinn Fein has also called on the EU to act against the continued repression of Catalan democracy by the Spanish government following the arrest of Catalan President-elect Charles Puigdemont on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said she was “alarmed at the aggression and violence perpetrated by the Spanish state against the Catalan people” and described the actions as “reprehensible and counterproductive”.

“The arrest of Charles Puigdemont, and the violent response of Spanish police to the protests that followed, shows that the Spanish government is firmly wedded to aggression and intransigence,” she said.

“The charges against Mr Puigedemont should be dropped and he should be released immediately. The actions of the Spanish government will only have served to deepen the crisis.

“The dispute between the people of Catalonia and the Spanish state over independence will not be resolved through incarceration and violence.”

The Sinn Fein Leader called on the European Union to impress upon the Spanish government the need for dialogue and negotiation.

“The people of Catalonia voted for independence. The European Union has a duty to come off the sidelines. It must show leadership in convincing the Spanish government that dialogue and mediation is the only way to resolve the crisis.”

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