Israel and shootings in Gaza

 

Sir, – The shooting of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza is illegal, immoral and indicative of a complete disregard for the lives of Palestinians.

In Gaza, two million people are imprisoned by a sea, land and air blockade in a tiny strip crumbling at the seams.

A further three million live under military occupation in the ever-shrinking West Bank; their basic freedoms curtailed, their land seized, their civil liberties denied.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, millions of Palestinians live as refugees.

In Gaza, peaceful protesters are shot by snipers. In the West Bank, settlements continue to eat further into Palestinian land in blatant disregard for international law. The US cheers from the sidelines, and the EU averts its gaze.

The fate of the Palestinian people is a stain on the conscience of the world. This most recent massacre demands a response. The Irish Government condemns the killing but refuses to take practical action to support the right of Palestinians to live in dignity.

We call on the Irish Government to recognise the state of Palestine. Such an act would declare Ireland’s belief that Palestinians are deserving of the same rights, dignity and justice as the rest of the world. In December 2014 Dáil Éireann voted to recognise Palestine but this has yet to be enacted by Government.

We also call on all parties to support the passage of the Occupied Territories Bill through the Oireachtas.

This legislation, due before Seanad Éireann over the coming weeks, can ensure that Israel is held accountable for violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territories.

These initiatives demand support. It is time to show political and moral leadership. – Yours, etc,

ÉAMONN MEEHAN,

Executive Director,

Trócaire,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare;

ROSAMOND BENNETT,

Chief Executive,

Christian Aid Ireland;

Dublin 6.

Sir, – Golda Meir attended the Evian Conference in 1938 where the members of the League of Nations – Ireland included – met and concluded that, regretfully, they found themselves individually and collectively unable to help Jewish refugees in any way, shape or form.

Later as prime minister of Israel she said the experience had helped form her philosophy that it is better to be alive with a bad reputation than to be dead and pitied.

Israel will never take instruction as to how it should behave, and no amount of boycotting will change that.

If half the energies of peoples and their governments went into sincere and forceful attempts in getting both parties in this interminable conflict to the table as goes into futile gesturing, then maybe there would be, at the very least, an end to the killing. – Yours, etc,

MELVYN WILCOX,

Ballintemple,

Cork.

Sir, – In January 2017 I travelled to Gaza with Trócaire with the Holy Land Coordination group comprised of representatives of church bodies and agencies involved in the life of the Holy Land.

I saw at first hand the wretched conditions of the 1.8 million people, half of them children, and crammed into an area smaller than Ireland’s smallest county.

“Two million people in a cage” was how Suhaila Tarazi, director general of the Ahli Arab Hospital described them. The hospital treats over 30,000 people every year, regardless of creed or politics, and especially women suffering from chronic illness, and malnourished children, and ones burnt in the shelling of the three wars since 2007.

Later in Hebron, a former Israeli soldier from the Breaking the Silence group of more than a thousand former members of the Israeli military who oppose what is happening, spoke of his daily orders in Hebron to “disrupt the lives of Palestinians every day.”

The deprivations, land-grabbing and discrimination have been well chronicled and need no further elaboration but the simple message they asked us to bring to the world was “do not forget us”.

In the hopeful words of the former Israeli soldier, “We are losing now but we will win.” – Yours, etc,

PAUL CLAYTON-LEA

Reaghstown,

Ardee,

Co Louth.

Sir – The smug, self-satisfied grin on Binyamin Netanyahu’s face says it all.

What other political leader – aware of the slaughter being carried out by his troops – would be happy to present such an image to the world?

Israel has no moral compass, and it will take a concerted social, cultural, economic and political pattern of isolation to bring Israel back into the fold of civilised countries.

We waited 20 years to respond to Sharpeville, let’s not make that mistake again. – Yours, etc,

HARRY McCAULEY,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – How come the Palestinians never try to storm the border between Gaza and Egypt or seem to have any issues with the Egyptian blockade?

How come they never get angry toward the Arab countries who refuse to grant human rights to Palestinians they keep in refugee camps?

How come we hear a lot about the Palestinians’ demand for a right to return but little from them about the right of Jewish families and their descendants to have the same right of return?

Finally, what exactly would happen if the IDF stood down and let the Palestinians break through the border and go on a rampage through the Israeli communities that are a few hundred metres away (and who live under daily rocket attack – actual rockets provided for free by Iran and not stones)? – Yours, etc,

DESMOND FITZGERALD,

Canary Wharf,

London.