8 January 2009 Edition
Gaza - action not words are what is needed
People across the world have been horrified at the rising death toll in Gaza in particular the 75 civilian deaths on Tuesday, including those seeking shelter in a UN school. These actions were entirely indefensible and unjustifiable.
As An Phoblacht goes to print Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams criticised a three-hour daily window that Israeli forces said they would allow for Humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.
There is a humanitarian disaster in Gaza as a consequence of the long standing Israeli policy of sanctions and most immediately the current Israeli assault on that region.
The United Nations has stated that there is a growing shortage of basic foodstuffs and fresh water because of damage to the infrastructure in Gaza. To allow just three hours a day for humanitarian aid to access Gaza, be unloaded and distributed will not address the sheer scale of this crisis.
Humanitarian aid must have unhindered access to all areas of Gaza in order to provide for the population there, the local health services and aid infrastructure.
The latest atrocities in Gaza, the results of which were witnessed on TV screens around the world must immediately impress upon world leaders that the time for condemnation alone has passed. The international community including the Irish Government, must intensify efforts to resolve the situation before it deteriorates any further.
Sinn Féin International Spokeperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has communicated with the Oireachtas Committees on European Affairs and European Scrutiny to ask for meetings to be convened in order to examine whether Israel’s current actions in Gaza are in breach of its agreements with the EU which underpin substantial privileges for Israel including preferential trade.
The latest Reports that a ceasefire may be agreed are to be welcomed. However with Israel continuing its attacks, the EU cannot continue to take a softly, softly approach with Israel.
As the death toll in Gaza rises rapidly, the region’s poor infrastructure is beyond recognition. Since June 2007 the people of Gaza have suffered from Israel’s ongoing blockade of food, fuel and humanitarian aid. The horrendous effects of the current military attack will be felt by the people of Gaza for many years to come.
The EU cannot continue to shirk its responsibility to promote peace in the region. Israel enjoys many economic privileges from its relationship with the EU. These privileges are underpinned by specific trade agreements. These include the Barcelona Declaration which obliges signatories to respect the territorial integrity and unity of each of the other partners and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Agreement which obliges Israel to abide by generally recognised principles of international law and the Association Agreement article 2 of which makes preferential trade conditional on Israel respecting human rights and democratic principles. Israel is now, and arguably always has been, in breach of these agreements.
The time for tough words from international leaders has been and gone as it is clear that Israel is not listening. Now is the time for action.