Thousands of people took part in a march in Dublin today in support of Palestinians following the Israeli military incursion into Gaza.
The demonstration, which began at O'Connell Street before moving to the Dáil and on to the Israeli embassy, was coordinated by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC). The crowd in attendance was thought to be double the number that participated in a similar rally last week.
Organisers and gardaí placed the attendance at somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people, who at one stage filled most of O’Connell Street before moving through the capital among chants of “no peace, no justice” and “Palestine will be free”.
The rally took place as Israeli military activity continued in Gaza bringing the death toll to more than 300 people, according to Palestinian officials.
"We are here today to show solidarity for the people of Gaza who have been under assault from Israel, " said IPSC spokeswoman Freda Hughes.
“Over 320 people [have been]killed. We know that over 60 of these are children and a UN report this week said that at least 80 per cent of those are civilian casualties.”
Outside the Dáil, the crowd was addressed by IPSC chairman Martin O’Quigley, Dublin City councillor Tina McVeigh and Siptu general secretary Jack O’Connor.
Mr O’Quigley admonished some mainstream media for its coverage of the conflict and scorned the Israeli administration over its claims that civilians were not deliberately targeted during military operations.
“Israel doesn’t target children?! Israel has been targeting children since 1946. Israel has been killing Palestinians with impunity. Nobody is prepared to sanction Israel,” he told a rapturous crowd.
There were, from various speakers, calls for an end to the siege, sanctions, and stronger Government condemnation of Israeli aggression.
Several flags, US and Israeli, were burned outside the embassy at the end of the demonstration, in one case leading to a woman suffering burns to her hand, and drawing censure from several protestors.
Saleh Rifaie, a 33-year-old Palestinian who has been living in Ireland since the age of seven, said more action was necessary from world powers in order to dissuade Israel from oppression.
“I would sanction Israel from all trade in the EU and [ask]for the US to stop funding it,” he said. “[Aid] is supposed to go to countries in need or developing countries, not one with the fourth biggest army in the world.”
Much of the vocal criticism was aimed at the Fine Gael-Labour Government and what was broadly considered to be its weak stance on Israel’s conduct.
Sara O'Rourke from Dublin agreed, saying: "The Irish Government's position is shocking. I heard Joan Burton saying that they condemn both sides equally and, at that point, no Israeli has been killed, so how can you?"
The march was almost entirely peaceful, although some scuffles involving a smaller fringe group broke out toward the end after gardaí pursued one man who entered the grounds of the embassy.