Thousands protested in cities across the country this evening following a horrific mass murder by Israel of some 60 unarmed Palestinians in Gaza on Monday. It was the single deadliest day for Palestinians in several years.
Protestors had been marking the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 indigenous Palestinians 70 years ago when they came under a hail of gunfire. Israeli snipers used live rounds amid a fog of tear gas to shoot down young and old alike. Some 2,700 were injured.
The youngest fatality was Leila Anwar Ghandoor, aged just 8 months, who died in hospital on Tuesday morning from tear gas inhalation.
Protests took place today in Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Limerick, Omagh, and Waterford, and further protests are due to take place later in the week in Cobh, Portadown, Sligo, Ennis, Belfast and Cork. Hundreds of republicans who gathered this evening at the International Wall in West Belfast expressed anger after they were spied on by the PSNI police and some were detained and searched.
The Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dublin parliament that his government was “profoundly shocked” by the toll of dead and injured. “There is no indication that the scale of the threat could have justified such violence and so many deaths,” he said. “Live ammunition is not a tool to be used for crowd control in our view.”
Foreign Minister Simon Coveney demanded a meeting with the Israeli ambassador on Tuesday morning to discuss the conflict. He told the ambassador he was outraged about what had happened.
Speaking in the Dublin parliament, Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty said the Israeli Ambassador should have been told “to pack his bags”.
“The government must expel the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland in response to these murders and the flagrant disregard for international law, as well as recalling the Irish Ambassador to Israel in protest,” he said.
But Varadkar refused to accede to calls to expel the ambassador, as South Africa has done and other nations are considering. He said: “That is not the way we believe we should engage with other states. If we were to expel their ambassador they would expel ours.”
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald demanded the Dublin government formally recognise the state of Palestine.
“The Palestinian people need our solidarity now,” she said. “This could well be one of the bloodiest episodes in their tragic history and Ireland must take the lead among nations in saying that there can be no impunity or indemnity for state violence directed at peaceful protest.”
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said the attacks on Gaza were deplorable and laid the blame at Washington’s door. “It would seem that the USA Government have walked off the pitch when it comes to diplomacy in the Middle East,” he said. “Therefore, it is imperative that the European Union step in and address the diplomatic and humanitarian void to end the bloodshed inflicted upon Gazans.”
Academics in Ireland have added their voices to the growing national and international calls for a complete boycott against Israel.
“This open and unapologetic massacre of unarmed civilians shows why we urgently need to break links with the Israeli state and with complicit institutions,” said Ronit Lentin, the chair of Academics for Palestine. “The EU and Ireland facilitate these murders by funding and working with Israeli companies and universities that are integral parts of the brutal occupation of Palestine.”
The Israeli ambassador again attempted to justify the actions of his country’s forces today, and claimed there could have been an attempt to breach the Israeli border. He insisted, despite two thousand Palestinians having been killed or injured by Israeli gunfire, that its snipers had sought to avoid civilian casualties.
“No country, including Ireland will tolerate any penetration of its legitimate borders,” he said.