Gaza and Covid-19
Sir, – The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) welcomes the announcement by the Government regarding the provision of €6 million in extra funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is tasked with overseeing the welfare of Palestinian refugees. However, we also call on the Government to do more to help end Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza which is putting Palestinians at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic and to put pressure on Israel to ensure it meets its legal obligations to provide adequate healthcare to the people of Palestine.
Palestinian refugees are grateful for this funding boost for UNWRA, and we in the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign thank the Government for its generosity. However, we reiterate our view that the Government calls for an end to Israel’s cruel and illegal siege of Gaza, and for the immediate provision of necessary emergency healthcare equipment and that it should use its influence to get the EU to do the same. This is all the more urgent as medical officials in Gaza, where there are currently 13 cases, announced they had run out of Covid-19 testing kits.
International pressure should also be put on Israel, as the occupying power, to meet its legal obligations to provide adequate healthcare to the people of Palestine, and to cease conditioning aid and shutting down emergency health facilities in the West Bank, actions that put millions of Palestinian lives at risk.
While such donations are both necessary and greatly appreciated, we must recognise that they are merely plasters over the wounds caused by over seven decades of displacement, ethnic cleansing, deliberate de-development, apartheid and continual colonial violence inflicted upon the Palestinian people by the State of Israel. As much as short-term treatment is necessary, the international community should be focusing on ending the underlying causes of these problems – the continued military occupation of Palestine, the continued refusal of Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to exercise their legally mandated right to return, and the continued treatment of Palestinian citizens of Israel as inferior citizens.
That UNRWA must exist in the first place is a result of political decisions that created the Palestinian refugee population; that UNRWA is facing a perpetual funding crisis is due to the political decisions of the Trump-Netanyahu attempts to de-fund it out of existence in a vain attempt to deny refugees their right of return. To remedy this, there must be a political decision by the international community to end Israel’s impunity and to compel it to respect the human, national and democratic rights of the Palestinian people.
As a matter of extreme urgency, the siege of Gaza must be lifted. – Yours, etc,
FATIN AL TAMIMI,