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30 November 2023 Edition

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We are bearing witness to war crimes

• Mary Lou McDonald at National Demonstration in support of Palestine

All across Ireland, republican activists and political representatives have been participating in the ongoing solidarity protests with the people of Palestine. Here, we focus on two just aspects in a range of actions in support of Palestine. We carry the address made by Sinn Féin President Mary Lou MacDonald at the 18 November rally in Dublin and an edited version of the contributions made by Sinn Féin TDs in the Dáil on Tuesday 14 November.

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Palestine must not walk alone

Mary Lou McDonald address at 18 November National Demonstration in support of Palestine

I stand here in solidarity with Palestine. We meet here to bear witness to the suffering of the Palestinian people. We are here heartbroken, and as mad as hell. We are here to say to the world that the occupation, the apartheid, the human rights violations, the bombardment, the savagery, the obscenity, the ethnic cleansing must end. We gather at a time when genocide is televised, yet the international community looks the other way. 

Answer me this. Where is the protection of international law for the children of Gaza? Where is the protection of international law for the population of the West Bank, for the refugee camps, for the mothers, the fathers, the children who have suffered for generations?

I believe we have now reached a tipping point. I have been at these rallies like the rest of you for a very long time. And I am determined and I hope that you are determined that this will end. This will stop.

We could be depressed you know. You could throw your hands up in desperation and say, ‘Well what are we going to do’. Just remember, there is more of us than them. Just remember there are more people across the world across this globe, who long for, who demand Palestinian freedom. And just remember although Ireland has not moved yet, others have. South Africa has. Spain has and will.

So, coming from this gathering, this demonstration we must keep the pressure up. Israel must be referred to the International Criminal Court. South Africa has done it. Ireland must do it. We must see sanctions. The Taoiseach has identified collective punishment. He has said that Israel’s actions cannot be without consequence. 

So, what are the consequences? Where are the consequences? Now is the time to be active. Now is the time for the Irish spirit of ‘Saoirse’, of freedom, of dignity, to assert itself like never ever before. Because this long walk to freedom that is Palestine is our story too. We have a responsibility as people of conscience, as citizens of the world, to make sure that no Palestinian makes that walk alone. 

That is my pledge as a political activist. That is my pledge as a political leader. So now from Ireland, it must be heard loud and clear, that Israeli war crimes will not go unpunished, that Netanyahu’s government will face international tribunals and the full wrath of the international community. And for the little children that we have seen in their agony, for their mothers, their fathers. 

Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry. Palestine will never ever die. 

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World leaders look on while men, women and children are being slaughtered

The plight of the Palestinian people was raised in a detailed Sinn Féin Dáil motion on Tuesday 14 November. Included in the motion was a call that “Dáil Éireann condemns and deplores the escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory since 7 October, particularly the killing of innocent men, women and children, the taking hostage and imprisonment of civilians, the targeting of civilian infrastructure and the mass forced displacement of civilians”.

The motion also “reiterates its call for immediate ceasefires, for the immediate release of all hostages, and for the unconditional adherence by all parties to their commitments under international law and the UN Charter; and mandates the Irish Government to exercise Ireland’s right under Article 14, and other relevant articles, of the Rome Statute of the ICC to refer the situation in the State of Palestine to the Prosecutor of the ICC for the purpose of requesting the Prosecutor to investigate any acts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide alleged to have occurred on the territory of Palestine from 7 October, 2023 onwards.” 

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Palestine protest 2

We may be a small country but our voice is powerful – Sorca Clarke

We must refer Israel to the ICC. Its actions have horrified those of us across Europe and the wider world who are graced with the protection of distance from these attacks. The deliberate targeting and killing of thousands of civilians, with the targeting and destroying of civilian infrastructure, hospitals and schools and the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, is beyond comprehension at this point. 

The entire population of Gaza is now a humanitarian case. There are half a million settlers in the West Bank. While what has been happening in Gaza continues, we have seen the worst situation in the West Bank for many years in terms of the number of people being killed. 

We see, as Irish people, the plight of the Palestinians and see the egregious destruction being rained down on them relentlessly, day in and day out. We want to see a pathway for peace and want to see hostages released, but we also want to see those who are responsible for this destruction held to account for it. 

This is an issue of humanity. It is a question of what we place value on. We may be a small country but our voice is powerful and will not go unnoticed. 

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Wounded Child No Surviving Family – Matt Carty

There is now an acronym that is ascribed to some children in hospitals in Gaza: WCNSF, wounded child no surviving family. No other term sums up the tragic horrendous human cost of the brutal attacks that Israel is perpetrating against the civilian population of Palestine than that. 

The Sinn Féin motion is a response to the cries from Gaza. It sets out simply that Ireland will use our voice by referring these heinous acts to the International Criminal Court, ICC. The Government countermotion does not set out a single argument as to why it cannot make this referral and only provides excuses as to why it will not. 

A referral to the ICC can be made by Ireland and it should be made. There should be no excuses. The Sinn Féin motion should be adopted unanimously as a response from Ireland to the obscenity that is WCNSF, wounded child no surviving family

Over the past month and more, the world has watched in absolute horror as the Gazan people face annihilation. Missiles rain down on two million people who have been denied food, fuel and water in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. 

We are bearing witness to a cataclysmic event. We are bearing witness to war crimes. We are bearing witness to genocide. Israel acts with impunity through its indiscriminate slaughter of a trapped population. 

This ferocious siege is not out of character for Israel. For decades Palestinians have had their lives ravaged and brutalised by Israel’s apartheid regime. They have been living under an occupation, blockaded for 16 years. Their land has been occupied and annexed. They have been denied the right to return.

We must call for a ceasefire now and hold Israel to account. It must be held to account at the International Criminal Court, ICC. 

Palestine protest 3

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Standing up against oppressive regimes – Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Long before the recent disastrous events in Palestine and Israel, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and B’Tselem designated Israel as an apartheid state. 

On 18 July 1984 Mary Manning, a shop worker at Dunnes Stores on Henry Street, here in Dublin, refused to handle South African goods in protest against its apartheid regime. Three years later Ireland became the first state in the western world to ban imports of South African goods. That is the stand we took back then. We led the way and the rest of the world continued on that path, and eventually that apartheid regime was brought down and justice was delivered for all the South African people.

The appeal, therefore, is to go back to the practices we had in the past that were the right ones to make a stand for what is right and decent. 

We have to take a stand in line with our tradition in this country of standing up for people who are oppressed and standing up against oppressive regimes. 

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Palestine protest 4

Time for the courage to say Stop – Johnny Guirke

I thank people right across the world who have come out in their millions to support the Palestinian people. I want to see the release of Emily Hand and all other hostages, including those in Israeli jails. There are also the 2.2 million hostages who have been penned into Gaza for the past 17 years. In the past five weeks, 11,200 Palestinians have been killed, with 4,600 of those being children. 

Some 28,000 have been injured. Some 1.5 million people have been displaced. A child is being killed every ten minutes. Some 3,250 Palestinians are missing under the rubble, and 1,700 of those are children. Some 50 media workers have been killed, including 38 journalists. Some 101 aid workers have been killed. Twenty-two of Gaza’s 35 hospitals have been forced to close down, and most medical clinics have closed. Babies are dying because there is no electricity or fuel for incubators. The daily existence of the Palestinian people has become an endless cycle of despair.

World leaders look on while men, women and children are being slaughtered. I wonder to myself why. Is it because those leaders want a base in the Middle East? Is it because Israel has too much power, money and influence in their countries? Is it because the European Union has licensed €2 billion in arms sales to Israel since 2012? 

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Europe’s colonial outlook – Rose Conway-Walsh

The response of European leaders to the onslaught on Gaza and to the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians is a failure they will have to explain to future generations. It makes a mockery of the much-claimed European values. When I look at the European response, I see a colonial outlook and values. 

Ireland has, so far, been a light in the very, very dark sky. This is not the time, however, to be patting ourselves on the back. Every day which goes by, Israel slaughters hundreds more Palestinians. I commend the Government for speaking up for the Palestinian people and for saying that there must be consequences for breaking international law. Now, action must follow those words.

Palestine protest 5

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Decades of War Crimes – John Brady

Both Israel and the US have claimed that the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction. Israel described the Palestinian Authority’s referral of Israel to the ICC as a hostile act, and threatened the Palestinian Authority with the withholding of taxes and customs collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

Donald Trump went further, actually imposing sanctions on the International Criminal Court prosecutors and threatening legal action against them if they investigated Israeli war crimes. The immunity which has been conferred on Israel by the international community for its past and continuing international crimes in the occupied territories has emboldened Israel’s efforts during the current wave of violence. 

In 2022, the Government provided €3 million to the ICC investigation in Ukraine. The Belgian Government recently provided €5 million for the ICC to investigate the war crimes in Palestine. The Irish Government needs to match that funding if not to go further.

The Government also needs to support the immediate advancement of the Illegal Israeli Settlements Divestment Bill because the Government has made the Irish taxpayers shareholders in the crimes being perpetrated by Israel as we speak. Ireland needs to send a clear message that the days of Israel’s immunity for its war crimes is over.  


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