Dáil Diary no 34- 17th July 2014 Massacre in Gaza and the World is silent... For the third time in five years, the world’s fourth largest military power has launched a full-scale armed onslaught on one of its most deprived and overcrowded territories on the planet. Since Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip began, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed. Nearly 80% of the dead are civilians, over 20% of them children, while Palestinian fire has killed one Israeli on the other side.
But instead of demanding a halt to Israel’s campaign of collective punishment against what is still illegally occupied territory, the western powers have blamed the victims for fighting back “No country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Barack Obama declared, echoed by a mostly pliant media. Perhaps it’s scarcely surprising that states which have themselves invaded and occupied a string of Arab and Muslim countries in the past decade should take the side of another occupier they fund and arm to the hilt. Here’s my contribution yesterday on the issue with the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan- “To date, more than 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians including women and children, have been killed. In contrast, there has been one fatality on the Israeli side. I do not understand how the Government has stayed so silent. More than 300,000 Palestinians have been asked to move or have been displaced in preparation for an imminent attack. What is happening right now amounts to a massacre, not a war. We should all be concerned. Israel claims that it has the right to self-defence, but an occupying power does not have the right to defence. It has an obligation and a duty to protect the civilians under its occupation. Even if it fails to meet that duty, it must abide by humanitarian law and the principles of distinction, proportionality and necessity. It has not abided by any of these. What is happening in Gaza amounts to war crimes. It is a repeat of what happened in 2008, 2009 and 2012. We will see this repeated unless Israel is held to account under international humanitarian law and international criminal law. We need responsible governments to introduce sanctions in order to work towards stopping these massacres and to address the root causes of these flare-ups, which is the structural violence of occupation, apartheid and settler colonialism. Hamas and other Palestinian leaders are suspicious of the Middle East envoy, Mr. Tony Blair, acting as the link between Israel and Egypt. Blair is clearly a defender of Israel's interests and in the interest of peace, the Government should advocate at European level for the removal of Blair, who should be tried for war crimes for his disgraceful involvement in the Iraq war. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, "No international pressure will prevent us from acting with all power", claiming to have recently had good conversations with leaders, including US President Obama and EU Heads of Government. Will Ireland also be complicit? Despite that the United Nations top human rights official has called for an investigation into Israeli air strikes in Gaza on the grounds that the targeting of Palestinian homes resulting in a high death toll among civilians, particularly children, violates international law, is there any chance the Government would take a neutral position and highlight how disgraceful the Israeli behaviour is? Unfortunately, the US and Egypt are happy to see Hamas take a beating. On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was concerned about escalating tensions. On Tuesday he said, "I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas". The Minister spoke about both sides behaving themselves. If France invaded Liechtenstein, killed 200 of its inhabitants while only one French person was killed, would we be asking them to behave and make up? No, we would be throwing anything we could at France. What is happening in Gaza is outrageous. Everyone knows Hamas’s demands are not ridiculous. It wants the blockade ended, the release of 50 prisoners who were re-arrested after they had recently been released in exchange for an Israeli soldier, and the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. If the US continues to defend the indefensible, Israel will continue to behave abysmally. That is no reason why the Irish Government should behave abysmally. Let us call a spade a spade. We need to be seen as a neutral country.” Mick Wallace.