Protests have been taking place across Ireland in support of the Palestinian people and to demand international action to end Israeli violence.
Calls for a resumption of peace efforts have come despite a growing conviction that genuine peace will require a dismantling of the Israeli state, its war machine and its system of apartheid.
But support for Palestinian freedom is tempered by the desire to see an end to the loss of life.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has been organising emergency ‘Protests for Palestine’. Protests have already taken place in Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Newry, Naas, Cork and Sligo. Over a thousand people attended the protest in Dublin entitled ‘ Stand with Palestine’ They will continue this weekend with the main demonstrations on Saturday in Cork and Dublin and in Belfast on Sunday.
“We need to tell our leaders that we won’t be silent in the face of Israeli war crimes, illegal collective punishment, and threats of mass ethnic cleansing. We need to tell Apartheid Israel that we will escalate the international campaign for justice in Palestine,” the IPSC said.
Pro-Palestinian activists placed a giant flag on Belfast mountain, while members of the Palestinian community gathered outside City Hall on Sunday afternoon, and were interviewed by the Irish News.
Mohammed Samaana grew up in Palestine and has lived in Belfast for 23 years.
“As a Palestinian, I witnessed first-hand the Israeli oppression. The shooting at random of innocent civilians, a classmate of mine was killed on his way home from school by the Israelis even though he wasn’t involved in anything,” he said.
He also described being beaten and handcuffed by Israeli soldiers as a child.
“I visited home back in June and similar issues are still happening against the civilian population,” he said.
He also accused western powers of hypocrisy over the support shown for Ukrainians and sanctions against Russia.
Sue Pentel, who is a member of Jews for Palestine, said she believed that Israel’s previous aggression was the ultimate cause of the bloodshed.
“No one expected this latest round of bloodshed, but this has been building up,” she said.
“Only when the oppressed, occupied and brutalised people of Palestine enjoy the same freedoms and human rights as Israelis, will the root causes of this violence be addressed.”
As a Jewish woman, she said her opposition to Israel was nothing to do with religion but with “settler-colonialism and apartheid”.
“This is the absolute desperation of people being brought to the brink,” she said.
“Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, also threatened on Saturday to reduce Gaza to rubble. That’s a war crime, that’s collective punishment and mass murder.”
The Sinn Féin leadership has expressed support for Palestine but has also condemned the actions of Hamas.
“The attacks perpetrated by Hamas at the weekend have rightly met with outrage and condemnation in Ireland and throughout the world,” wrote party leader Mary Lou McDonald.
But she noted that they occurred “against the backdrop of deep injustice as Palestinian self-determination is ruthlessly suppressed”.
“For decades, the Israeli state has breached International law day in and day out with collective punishment, annexation, confiscation of lands and the imposition of an apartheid regime.
“The international community has not looked the other way, but have facilitated Israel’s breaches of international law.”
She called for ceasefires, a renewal of dialogue, and the rigorous enforcement of international law “equally for all” as a means to stop the cycle of violence.
“Ireland can play an immensely positive role in achieving this goal,” she said.
“Our history of oppression, colonisation, and dispossession means we are uniquely placed to make a real difference. The Irish peace process shows that there is always a way to resolve even the most bitter, intractable situations.
“Even the darkest of times, we can find the chink through which the light of hope can enter. Through our powerful diplomatic standing, Ireland can and must be to the fore in driving a decisive international intervention in the Middle East.
“An intervention that upholds the primacy of international law to bring about a just settlement and a lasting peace.”
People for Prpfit MLA Gerry Carroll expressed support for the Palestinian actions and said Israel should be treated “like we did South Africa”.
On Saturday, the West Belfast representatives posted a message on Twitter which read “Victory to the Palestinian Resistance”, accompanied by two clenched fist emojis. It angered unionists and other supporters of Israel, and even triggered a police investigation.
Speaking on BBC Radio, Mr Carroll said he was horrified at the violence taking place over the weekend but that those living in Palestinian territories were “people are living under apartheid conditions, ethnic cleansing, denial of rights, murder, enforced deprivation and children living with no future.”
“I think it’s important that any right minded person would look at the situation this weekend and be horrified, because violence and war is horrific.
“There’s an imbalance of violence…it’s horrific. We need to put this into context and for me, I want to see the apartheid Israeli state taken down and dismantled by mass civil disobedience,” he said.
During the interview, Mr Carroll also expressed a desire for Israel to be “treated like South Africa in the 1980s” when the African nation was under apartheid rule and faced international sanctions.
“It’s an apartheid state … we have Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, we need to treat it as South Africa in the 1980s was treated and their treatment of black people, I think we should treat the state like that. That’s not to celebrate violence,” he said.
“Any violence over the weekend was horrific, but the media has to have a memory longer than 48 hours long. This violence predates 1948 when the Israeli state was established. This violence goes back to the British mandate where they supported the creation of a state where people already had their homes and land.
“You have to put it into context, you can be horrified by violence which I am, but also put it into context for the people of Palestine.”
On Sunday, Republican Sinn Féin blamed the Hamas operation on “the ever-increasing repression of the Palestinian people”.
“Be under no illusion, the terrorists in these areas are the Zionist soldiers of Israel,” they said.
“What is needed now is for a just peace, a unitary and workable Palestine with the recognised borders set out in UN charters, the end of settler outposts. As Irish Republicans, we have always stood with the people of Palestine and their just call for their homeland.”
Republican group Saoradh expressed their admiration for the Palestinian fighters who “bravely stood up against all odds”
“We salute the martyrs who have selflessly paid the supreme sacrifice while resisting the occupiers over the past few days,” said Saoradh chairman Stephen Murney.
“Their bravery and resilience is inspiring for Revolutionary anti-imperialists around the world, ourselves included.”
In contrast, unionists have been exprssing their support for their fellow colonisers.
DUP human rights spokesman Jim Shannon MP called for the PSNI to be “aggressive” in “cracking down” on those expressing pro-Hamas views, and called for Hamas itself to be “liquidated”.