CONGRESS DEMANDS IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF GAZA BOMBARDMENT

20 Jul 2014

IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO SUMMONS ISRAELI AMBASSADOR AND DEMAND IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF GAZA BOMBARDMENT 

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has today called on the Government to summons the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland and demand that Israel ceases its bombardment of Gaza. 

Congress's David Joyce, said the Government needed to take heed of the views of the thousands of people on the streets of Dublin, and many thousands of others protesting around the world, who have condemned Israel’s bombardment of the people of Gaza and who are urging the Irish Government to take action to stop Israel’s war crimes. 

"We are appalled by today’s reports of at least 40 Palestinians being killed by Israeli shelling in the Gaza neighbourhood of Shejaia, the heaviest casualties since Israel launched its offensive on the Palestinian territory on July 8. This follows the sending in of ground forces into the Gaza Strip on Thursday after 10 days of air, naval and artillery barrages.  Gaza's Health Ministry officials report at least 370 Palestinians, over 70% of them civilians, have been killed in the 13-day conflict and about 2,600 have been wounded. On Israel's side, two civilians were killed by cross-border fire and five soldiers died as fighting occurred at close quarters," David Joyce said. 

Mr Joyce said that the blockade of Gaza had already made life intolerable for the people of Gaza. He pointed out that according to a UN spokesperson, '95% of the water is undrinkable.  You turn on a tap in Gaza and salt water comes out it.  Millions of litres of raw sewage flow into the sea from Gaza every single day.  We have a situation where the number of people coming to UNRWA for food assistance – it was 80,000 in 2000, it is now 800,000, that is, more than half of the people of Gaza”. 

David Joyce also explained that half of the population of Gaza’s 1.8 million people are children – and they are terrified. 

"The tiny enclave of Gaza has been under a draconian siege since 2005 when Israel transferred its settlers from Gaza to the West Bank. Israel continues its air, sea and land blockade of the people of Gaza, crushing the economy and creating a humanitarian catastrophe.  

"Since January 2006, Israel has killed over 3,000 Palestinian men, women and children in Gaza by military action – this number now tragically rises in the latest attacks."  

David Joyce said that the collective punishment of a civilian population and the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against the people of Gaza by the Government of Israel is a profound breach of International Humanitarian Law (the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949). 

Congress is calling on Minister Charlie Flanagan to take action and take the following important steps: 

1. Summons Israel’s Ambassador to Ireland and demand an immediate cessation of Israeli bombing and shelling of Gaza.

2. Support Palestinian calls for immediate United Nations intervention to provide protection for civilians across the West Bank and Gaza from Israeli army and settler attacks. 

3. Press the EU to help broker and implement a full ceasefire agreement, which includes an end to the blockade of Gaza and the free movement of people and goods. 

4. Fulfil our obligations as one of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 under Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and our obligation under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  

"Unfortunately, such calls on the international community have often fallen on deaf ears, and we also remind people of the call from Palestinian civil society for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.  Unless there are consequences for Israel’s actions, history tells us they will continue to flout international law," David Joyce concluded. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Pat Montague, Montague Communications, 087-2549123