Palestinian whose family fled Gaza to Ireland says it is ‘a historic moment full of emotions’

Protester at announcement describes recognition of Palestine as ‘giving a reward to a terrorist organisation’

Ireland’s recognition of the state of Palestine is “giving hope” to Palestinians living in Ireland. The move, announced by the Taoiseach on Wednesday, is a “crucial step for building a bright future”.

“We’re grateful for Ireland’s strong support and its historical step to recognise Palestine as a state. This is a crucial step for building a bright future without occupation,” said Ahmed Alsammak, a master’s student who came to Dublin in September for his studies.

“I deeply wish all western countries emulate Ireland, Norway, and Spain as I don’t want my children to have the same tough childhood that I had due to the Israeli occupation,” he told The Irish Times.

Irish people had “unwaveringly supported” Palestinians, Alsammak said. “That really has helped us as Palestinians in Ireland and alleviated our suffering as we see our families in Gaza suffering from famine and mass killings by the Israeli army.”


Ireland, Norway and Spain recognised the Palestinian state on Wednesday, prompting Israel to recall its ambassador from Ireland and Norway.

Taoiseach Simon Harris told the Dáil the move was not taken “to be virtuous” but because there was a belief in a two-state solution. “The people of Israel and the people of Palestine have a right to live side by side in two states and peace and insecurity. And if you believe in a two-state solution it’s important that you recognise the existence of two states.”

The countries who recognise Palestine do so as part of a peace process, he said. “But sadly we’re at a time where a just and comprehensive peace settlement seems further away than ever, perhaps, and you can’t wait forever to recognise the state of Palestine.”

Another Palestinian student who grew up in Gaza, Asil Nasir, said the announcement gave Palestinians “more hope that actual negotiations might happen”.

“We always see the solidarity of the people of Ireland, but the Government didn’t do anything practical as a reaction to what’s been happening in Gaza, but after this recognition of the state of Palestine there is hope,” she said.

The move was “a significant diplomatic victory” for Palestine and could be “a move to encourage other countries to follow suit, potentially leading to increased pressure on Israel to engage in meaningful negotiations”, she said.

Isam Hammad, whose family fled Gaza and arrived in Ireland in February, said it was “a historic moment full of emotions”.

“To be in Ireland and witness this strategic shift towards recognising the state of Palestine...Our people have been fighting for years to restore our rights on our land,” he said.

Hammad and his family fled their home in Gaza City and travelled to Rafah in October, a fortnight after the Hamas-led assault in southern Israel and the subsequent Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip. In November the family applied for Irish visas through his son Hamza, who was born in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin in 1997 and has Irish citizenship. They are now living in homeless accommodation in the city centre.

“Recognition is the first ingredient of the recipe of peace, which will never be established without allowing the people of Palestine to have their sovereign state on their own land,” Hammad said.

Meanwhile, a small number of protesters gathered at the gates of Leinster House following the announcement.

Lior Tibet, a student in UCD, said Israelis had experienced harassment on campus and a one-sided narrative in Ireland and in the Irish media.

“We do feel [recognition] is giving a reward to a terrorist organisation,” she said. “It’s not that we are against a two-state solution, we are pro-Palestinians, we want them to have a state, but we are opposed to Hamas, and as long as Hamas is the head of the state at the moment I just can’t see how it’s any benefit to the Palestinians and Israelis.”

She said there was a misconception of the concept of Zionism in Ireland, which she said was not against a Palestinian state.

Cormac, who declined to give his second name, said there had been multiple proposals for peaceful solutions that had been rejected by the Palestinian Authority. He said recognition of the state of Palestine needed to take place within a framework of peace negotiations.

Enosh Hortig, an Israeli studying and living in Ireland, said Israel had been attacked and needed to tackle Hamas. He said the number of civilian deaths that had been reported was not correct.

“[Hamas] are using their civilians [as] a human shield to fight against Israel. With terrorism you need to fight, and if they use their children as a human shield you have nothing to do and nothing to say; it’s very sad for us but you need to fight and kill all the bad people and all the terrorism.”

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times