A large crowd marched from O’Connell Street to the Israeli embassy in Dublin on Saturday to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza.
The demonstrators were met with barricades erected by gardaí in front of the embassy, which is on Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge. The public-order unit was also present but was not needed.
The crowd at one stage was so large that there were two stages, one at the front of the crowd and one at the back. The speakers included People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, who called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador; trade unionist Mags O’Brien; and Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan.
Many of those present were personally affected by the ongoing violence in Gaza. Irishwoman Claire Houlihan cried as she recounted losing two good friends from Gaza in Israeli bombings in recent days. One was an artist Haba Zaquot. “She was bombed while she was in her home with her two children. The last message she sent me was that she was sitting on the floor and she was scared,” she said. “She was full of life and hope and radiance.” Another died looking after dogs in a rescue shelter.
Ms Houlihan said she had been to Gaza many times. “It’s a very miserable place. It is full of rubble. The children have no life. We have put people in a prison for the last 20 years.”
Syrian refugee sisters Asmaa and Safa Kharita, who have been in Ireland for six years, said they knew what it was like to lose their homes. Safa said the issue of the Palestinian people was one for “all the people of the world. What they are going through is devastating. They have been going through this for 75 years. The world around them has gone blind and decided to do nothing about it.”
Nadil Hijazi-Kennedy, originally from Lebanon, said she was standing against “occupation and genocide. I’m pro-human rights for the Palestinian people, who have been targeted and occupied since 1948.
Syeda Riaz, from Pakistan, said she had a short message for the Israeli government. “Israel, stop killing Palestinian children. Enough is enough. That’s it.”
Those present said they intended to protest every Saturday for the coming weeks as long as Israel continued its military operations in Gaza. Other Palestine solidarity rallies took place on Saturday in Ennis, Cork, Carlow, Limerick and Galway.
Thousands of people also joined a march through central London in support of the Palestinian people.