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Gaza killings: Sinn Féin says Israeli ambassador should 'pack his bags' and be expelled

59 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during protests along the Gaza border against the US embassy opening in Jerusalem.

At least 2,400 were wounded in the violence yesterday.
At least 2,400 were wounded in the violence yesterday.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated 1.45pm

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has called on the government to send the Israeli ambassador to Ireland home.

She is also calling on the Taoiseach to recall Irish diplomats from Israel in protest at yesterday’s events.

59 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during protests along the Gaza border against the US embassy opening in Jerusalem.

Pressure is mounting on the Irish government to take a stand on the issue, with other members of the opposition, such as Labour’s Brendan Howlin, stating today that he will be calling on the government to implement a decision the Dáil made many years ago to recognise the State of Palestine.

The Irish government currently does not recognise the State of Palestine, despite Dáil Éireann voting unanimously to recognise it in 2014.

‘Ireland must take a stand’

Speaking to reporters today, McDonald said she understood that Ireland was a small country, and not a global power. However, she said that is not a reason to not take a stand.

“We do have the power of taking a stand and it has to start somewhere,” she said, adding that the Irish government, as a neutral country, has an obligation to act.

McDonald said she is not satisfied with the “symbolic act” of calling in the Israeli ambassador.

Coveney should have told the ambassador to “pack his bags and go”, she said.

This is a call that has been reiterated by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, who plans to call on sanctions to be imposed on Israel during a Dáil debate on the Gaza killings later this evening.

A book of condolences has been opened at the Mansion House on Dublin’s Dawson St by Ardmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath Mícheál Mac Donncha. It is open from 12 – 5pm today.

Summoning the ambassador 

Earlier today, Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney summoned the Israeli ambassador to a meeting to express Ireland’s “shock and dismay” at the level of death and injury yesterday on the Gaza Strip, and to call for restraint from Israel in the hours and days ahead.

The ambassador was asked to attend a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs at Iveagh House in Dublin. The Minister will also brief the Cabinet on the situation in Gaza this morning.

Ambassador Ze’ev Boker has been informed of Irish demands for an independent international investigation into yesterday’s deaths led by the UN, a spokesperson for the Minister said.

“Our mission in Ramallah reports that emergency responders in Gaza and the Strip’s health services are overwhelmed with the level of casualties,” said the spokesperson.

The health system was already facing major challenges due to lack of equipment and essential medicines.

The Sinn Féin leader criticised the Irish government, stating that it was quick to act on the advice of the British government in relation to the Salisbury incident, by expelling Russian diplomats.

She now wants to hear the Taoiseach’s explanation as to why he won’t do the same with Israeli diplomats “in the face of death and destruction” in Gaza.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

“We have been up and down this road before. Israel continue to act with impunity. Why would they not when they have the view they can break international law and they are never ever held to account,” she said.

When asked if she would back the call for people to boycott Israeli goods, she said:

“We need to do everything we need to do to bring Israel in line with international law,” said McDonald.

Kid gloves don’t work in this scenario.

“It is not good enough to say this is not our business, this is our business,” she said.

According to the Tánaiste’s spokesperson, Coveney is “very disturbed” by the level of injuries suffered by health workers tending to the injured, as reported by the World Health Organisation.

There were 211 recorded attacks against health workers attending the large numbers of injured during mass demonstrations at the border fence. Of those 9 sustained bullet wounds, 13 were injured by tear gas canisters and 189 suffered with tear gas inhalation. 25 ambulances were also damaged.

More protests expected 

Fresh protests are expected today as Palestinians mark the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

The United States yesterday transferred its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem in a move that infuriated the Palestinians and was widely condemned.

Most of the Gazans who died yesterday were shot by Israeli snipers, Gaza’s health ministry said. At least 2,400 other people were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

The death toll led to strong condemnation from rights groups and concern from a range of countries.

But the United States blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe into the violence, diplomats at the United Nations said.

Israel says its action is necessary to stop infiltrations of the border fence and claims that Hamas, which runs the blockaded Gaza Strip, uses the protests as cover to carry out violence.

The White House also blamed Hamas for the violence.

Budget Day 2018 Simon Coveney Source: Leah Farrell

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the “violence of the Israeli armed forces against the protesters” as several countries urged restraint.

Britain’s minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt acknowledged “Israel’s right to defend its borders” but also said “the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning”.

“We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint,” he said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said “we expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life”.

Simon Coveney said in an initial statement yesterday that he was “profoundly shocked” at the emerging scenes in Gaza.

President Higgins also released a statement expressing his “deep concern” at the deaths and injuries arising from the escalating violence.

“The escalating loss of life in Gaza is a tragic example of an unacknowledged failure of diplomacy,” said Higgins.

“Now is the time for all of us to give voice to the yearning among our citizens for new thinking on achieving peaceful resolutions to the conflicts which challenge us all.

“What is urgently needed now are tangible steps to support a credible, internationally-led process towards peace and security in the region, which alone can bring a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

At this very dangerous moment in time for the Middle East, I call on all involved to return to meaningful diplomacy, to avoid escalation and show the utmost care and respect for international treaties and agreements.

With reporting from - © AFP, 2018 and Christina Finn

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