Protest at Israeli embassy


Up to 50 people protested outside the Israeli embassy in Dublin today in response to the blockade of Gaza and the killing of nine people by Israeli forces on board a ship last week.

Members of the Irish Anti-War Movement assembled at the embassy at 6.45am this morning, following a similar protest last Friday.

They claimed Friday’s protest had forced the closure of the embassy for the full day.

The protesters claimed they had been “pushed back” from the entrance to the embassy by gardaí. A Garda spokesman said no arrests had been made but that Pembroke Road would remain closed until the protest had finished.

Claudia Saba, Palestinian member of the IAWM’s steering committee said it was “disgraceful” that gardaí would try to prevent us from protesting in a peaceful manner.

“Protecting the embassy of a government who has just days ago murdered humanitarian workers in international waters and who blockaded an Irish ship and imprisoned Irish activists before deporting them.”

Chair of the group Richard Boyd Barrett said the world could not simply allow Israel to return to “business as usual” after its “murderous” action against the peace flotilla last week.

“This latest in a long line of atrocities committed by Israel must be a trigger for real sanctions to be imposed, if the deaths of those brave peace activists are not to be in vain,” Mr Boyd Barrett said.

The IAWM rejected claims by the Israeli embassy that there had been anti-Jewish chants in Arabic that referred to extermination of Jews in the early days of Islam.

Ms Saba said she was one of two or three Arabic speakers at the protest and that there had been no such chants. Ms Saba said the protesters had chanted in English: 'Israeli ambassador out' and 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free' - a reference to a solution under which Jews and Palestinians would live in a single state.

She said they had also chanted 'Free, free Gaza'. Ms Saba said the embassy's claim was a "cowardly and feeble attempt to try and put down our calls for them to respect international law and to lift the siege on Gaza".

Mr Boyd Barrett said it was an "absolute policy of the Irish Anti-War Movement to tell anyone who chants anti-Semitic slogans to get off our demonstration. We simply would not tolerate it."

He said he had been at the protest for its entire duration and that all chants had been led by the IAWM.

A spokesman for An Garda Síochána said there were no arrests and no incidents reported.

“An Garda Síochána recognise the right of persons to protest peacefully and indeed facilitate such protests, however the right of persons to go about their lawful business including those employed at the Israeli Embassy must be facilitated.”

In a statement, the Israeli embassy said: "Ireland like Israel is a free and democratic country, and people have the right to demonstrate. However, when a demonstration becomes aggressive like the one in front of the Israeli embassy this morning, we expect that the police to intervene.

"We trust that the gardaí will ensure the safe entry of Israeli embassy personnel and staff to the embassy, and keep the entrance to the embassy open at all times.

"This is the same courtesy that Israel extends to the Irish embassy in Israel, as is the universal obligation of all countries towards diplomatic missions."

Israel said today it would carry out its own investigation into last week's raid on the flotilla heading for Gaza, after it rejected a UN proposal for an international inquiry.

Speaking in parliament in response to a no-confidence motion introduced by opposition parties over the May 31st raid, minister for defence Ehud Barak said Israel would examine ways to minimise friction in enforcing its blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Israeli troops shot dead nine Turkish citizens during the raid. The Israel Defence Forces said they were responding in self-defence to protesters wielding knives and clubs.

Additional reporting: Reuters