A CROWD GATHERED today at the Spire on O’Connell Street in Dublin to protest against the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli troops yesterday in Gaza.
The demonstration was arranged by the Ireland-Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and also marked 70 years since Nakba – or the catastrophe – for Palestinians, the term used to mark the events of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, in which hundreds of thousands fled or were forced from their homes.
Protests and sporadic clashes flared again today on the Gaza border, though they were far fewer in number than yesterday, with one Palestinian killed by Israeli fire, the Gazan health ministry said.
Yesterday, tens of thousands had gathered near the border while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.
The deaths overshadowed the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, relocated from Tel Aviv in fulfillment of a campaign promise by US President Donald Trump, whose daughter Ivanka attended the inaugural ceremony.
Most of the 60 Gazans killed were shot by Israeli snipers, Gaza’s health ministry said.
The toll included a baby who died from tear gas inhalation along with eight children under the age of 16, the ministry said.
At least 2,400 others were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.
Israel’s army said that “it appears that at least 24″ of those killed were militants, mainly from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
But there were numerous calls for an independent investigation into the deaths, with Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium among those supporting such action.
Speaking at the demonstration today, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestinian Solidarity Campaign Fatin Al Tamimi said that people in Palestine were losing hope.
“It’s you – the people in Ireland who can stand up and stand in solidarity with us Palestinian people back home,” she said.
“They can’t do anything. They’re powerless in Palestine, they’re hopeless. All that we can do is demonstrate.
“But it’s the international community who can help. It’s for you Irish people to raise your voice and say, ‘no enough is enough’.
Enough killing of the Palestinian people!
Also speaking at the event, Solidarity-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett called for sanctions on Israel and a tougher response from the Irish government as well as the wider international community.
Boyd Barrett also called for the immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, a call that was taken up by other speakers at the event and the crowd.
Dublin Lord Mayor Micheál Mac Donncha also spoke at the event and said that a book of condolences would be opened tomorrow for Palestinians who had died.
This evening, TDs have been making statements in the Dáil on the killing of Gazans by Israeli troops – with widespread condemnation coming from the speakers.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said earlier expressed his “profound shock” at the killings in Gaza and said that nothing he had seen from the protesters had justified that response from Israeli troops.
“The number of people injured by live ammunition is very troubling, and I support calls by the EU and by the UN Secretary General for an independent and transparent investigation,” he said yesterday.
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting today on the violence, with Kuwait preparing a draft resolution to protect Palestinian civilians and the United States defending ally Israel’s use of “restraint.”
The talks opened at UN headquarters in New York with a moment of silence for the 60 Palestinians killed.
Britain, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden – the five European nations on the council – joined Belgium, Germany and Italy in a statement calling on Israel to “refrain from excessive use of force” and on Hamas “to avoid provocation” and ensure that protests remain non violent.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley defended Israel, however.
“No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has,” Haley told the council.
In fact the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.
Turkey has told Israel’s ambassador to temporarily leave the country, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of “state terror” and “genocide”.
Israel hit back, ordering the Turkish consul in Jerusalem to leave for an unspecified period of time, its foreign ministry said.
“Erdogan is one of the biggest supporters of Hamas, so there’s no doubt he’s an expert on terror and slaughter,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted.
Israel’s leader also accused the Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza of deliberately putting civilians in the line of fire for political gain.
The United States has blocked the adoption of a Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe into the violence, diplomats said.
Some funerals were held in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip yesterday, while others took place today.
Despite the bloodshed, the embassy inauguration on Monday went ahead as planned in Jerusalem, attended by a Washington delegation that included US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House aides.
The embassy inauguration – which took place on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding – followed Trump’s 6 December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
With reporting from AFP