Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Press Release

17 Mar 2008
Open Letter to the Taoiseach concerning Gaza

An Open Letter to the Taoiseach – Issued by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Gaza

Dear Taoiseach,

We are horrified to witness the escalating Israeli attacks on Gaza; the bombardment of a population already weakened by a devastating siege.

During the week commencing Wednesday 27th February, more than 120 Palestinians, including over 20 children were killed by the Israeli military. Human rights groups claim over half of the victims were civilians, that the air-assault was clearly an attack on a civilian centre and that as such it constituted a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

In addition trade unionists active in the IPSC specifically wish to register their outrage at the deliberate and direct targeting of the Gazan headquarters of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) which was completely destroyed on Thursday ­- a clear assault on the rights and organisations of working people in Gaza.

Gaza remains under an economic siege so devastating that a UK-based human rights coalition - including Amnesty International, Trocaire and Christian Aid - declared that Gaza's humanitarian situation was at its worst since Israel occupied the territory in 1967 and added that "...unless the blockade ends now, it will be impossible to pull Gaza back from the brink of this disaster and any hopes for peace in the region will be dashed". We concur with the coalition’s description of the siege as “illegal collective punishment”.

It is now obvious that the Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai’s threat of inflicting a shoah (Hebrew for holocaust) upon Gazans was not an idle one. It is time for the international community to take action to challenge the unjust policies of the Israeli government which are in open breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and International Law.

An essential first step should be the exclusion of Israel from the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement under the terms of which Israel was granted privileged trading arrangements with the European Union on condition that the principles of democracy and human rights were upheld. While several Arab states have already been brought to book for alleged human rights abuses Israel has not despite flagrant ongoing human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. While Israel accepts EU subsidies with one hand, it strangles the Palestinian economy with the other.

We – Irish and Palestinians human rights activists - demand that the Irish Government assert the neutral character of the state, our autonomy in matters of foreign policy and our solidarity with the Palestinian people by calling for:

1. Israel’s suspension from the Euro-Med Trade Agreement;
2. Israel’s suspension from the European Security Research and Innovation Forum (ESRI);
3. The opening of the border crossing at Rafah and the censuring of European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) for compromising the operational integrity of their mission by giving Israel an effective de-facto veto over their mission;
4. An immediate joint EU/UN relief convoy to be sent to Gaza to avert the looming humanitarian catastrophe;
5. The immediate release of all tax revenues due to that government illegally withheld by Israel;
6. The immediate restoration of all international aid and trade relations with Gaza;
7. Irish firms and firms trading in Ireland to divest from Israel, notably Cement Roadstone Holdings Irl; Grafton Group plc; Veoila Ltd.

We are calling on the Irish Government to assert its autonomy in the matter of foreign policy; to stand up in the European Council and demand an end to its complicity with Israeli war crimes by calling for Israel¹s suspension from the Euro Med Agreement. This is what the majority of Irish people concerned with human rights demand.

It is essential to ACT NOW to protect the Palestinians and to finally grant them some hope for justice and peace.

Signed :

Marie Crawley (for the IPSC National Executive)
Raji Sourani and Jaber Wishah (for the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Gaza)

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