Shooting of Palestinians in Gaza

 

Sir, – Once again we witness the barbarity of the Israeli military as it kills 17 civilians in cold blood in Gaza and injures over a thousand more, some critically, last Friday.

Israel’s response to the peaceful “March of Return” protest was to carefully prepare and attack protesters with sniper gunfire, drones, artillery and tear gas. None of the deaths and injuries is accidental. The protesters were deliberately targeted and the scenes are so reminiscent of the Sharpeville killings in South Africa or those of Bloody Sunday in Derry.

Those killed include farmer 26-year old Omar Wahid Samour, who died when Israeli forces fired artillery shells at him while he was on his own land, more than 700 metres from the boundary fence in southern Gaza. Videos show 19-year old Abd al-Nabi shot in the head while desperately running away and a woman shot while standing waving a Palestinian flag.

The people of Gaza, who have suffered an unjust, crippling siege for over 10 years as well as three Israeli military onslaughts, have a legitimate right to protest on their own lands, including calling for the right of return, which is guaranteed by UN Resolution 194.

Instead of the hopelessly muted response from Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, the Irish Government should publicly condemn these killings for what they are – premeditated executions by a rogue state. Can we expect the Taoiseach and Mr Coveney to expel an Israeli diplomat from Ireland in solidarity with those Palestinians killed? – Yours, etc,

JIM ROCHE,

PRO Irish

Anti-War Movement,

PO Box 9260, Dublin 1.

Sir, – I am deeply saddened by the continuing inhumanity being visited by the state of Israel on the people of Palestine, notably over these past few days in Gaza.

What happened with the shooting dead of protesters and the wounding of many more has dark resonances of our own Bloody Sundays, and of so many examples in the racist history of South Africa. In a time when diplomatic expulsions are the order of the day, surely it is time to send the Israeli ambassador home with a message that we abhor what is being done in the name of the good people of Israel and to show our solidarity with the oppressed and the victims. – Yours, etc,

TONY DEVLIN,

Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.

Sir, – The recent violent clashes along the border between Gaza and Israel have once again drawn a disproportionate amount of media attention and press exposure to the region, while neglecting more urgent humanitarian situations throughout the broader Middle East. There are nine major conflict zones in the Arab world, and yet the attention of many international commentators is focused on Israel and its conflict with its neighbours, despite that fact that innocent lives are being lost on a much larger scale in Syria, Yemen, etc, on a daily basis.

Israel, the only functioning democracy in the region, is once again being singled out as a “human rights abuser” for merely defending the rights of its indigenous Jewish people to sovereignty and self determination in their historic homeland.

These clashes along the border have been orchestrated by Hamas as a PR stunt to propagate the notion that Israel is a temporary, imperialist imposition on their lands that will someday be eradicated and replaced by a Palestinian superstate encompassing the land in its entirety. Hamas and its sympathisers view the mere presence of the Jewish people in the land as being inherently colonial and parasitic; that the existence of a sovereign Jewish entity in their midst is a mistake to be corrected.

Western pundits frequently neglect to take into account the broader regional context of the conflict, or appreciate the severity of the security situation with which Israel is confronted, being surrounded by hostile neighbouring states who reject the right of its people to exist as a sovereign nation. By virtue of its democratic values and precarious position as an isolated Jewish state in a predominantly Islamic region, Israel faces threats no other democracy does.

Hamas is an example of an extremist group funded by wealthy and powerful regional interests that has assimilated into the civilian population, using innocent women, men, and children as decoys, human shields, and collateral. After the recent failed attempt at a “unity government” between Fatah and Hamas to represent the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel, Israel is once again left stranded without a clear partner for peace to work with on the other side.

When the time comes that Palestinian leaders get their act together and form a united front for negotiations with Israel, it must be made clear that negotiations should have a basis in a pretext of explicit and unequivocal recognition that the Jewish people have an equally valid right to self-determination, and that they lay an equally historically legitimate claim to the land, not that they are merely there by sufferance. Only then can a meaningful peace be forged in mutual respect for both people’s equal rights to have sovereignty over their ancient land.

Until that time comes, democracies such as Ireland must stand up for Palestinian human rights by condemning Hamas’s use of innocent civilians as shields in their orchestrated marches, and pressure must be applied on the Gaza regime for it to open up and return to the negotiating table to make peace with Israel. We must also ensure that we as a society are working hard to counter anti-Semitic attempts to undermine the Jewish people’s national rights, and that we call out discrimination and hate wherever we see it, particularly within political discourse.

Young Irish Jews are growing up in an intellectual environment and a political climate with an unprecedented level of hostility towards the Zionist cause. All of these issues must be addressed. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL DAKE,

Clondalkin,

Dublin 22.