Chris Donnelly: Ireland's compassionate approach to Gaza an example to the rest of the world

Chris Donnelly

Chris Donnelly

Chris is a political commentator with a keen eye for sport. He is principal of a Belfast primary school.

Protestors staged a sit-in, organised by Sisters Uncut, at Liverpool Street station in London last week to demand an immediate ceasefire to Israel's attacks on Gaza and an end to arms exports to Israel
Protestors staged a sit-in, organised by Sisters Uncut, at Liverpool Street station in London last week to demand an immediate ceasefire to Israel's attacks on Gaza and an end to arms exports to Israel

By the time you are reading this, the number of Palestinians murdered by Israel since October 7 will be approaching 10,000 men, women and children. These human lives have been taken with the approval, both tacit and explicit, of the most powerful people in the western world, including the political leaders of the United States, United Kingdom and many other European countries.

The very same political leaders have spent the past year and a half urging their peoples to publicly demonstrate (including at sport events) in support of Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

Read more:

  • Chris Donnelly: Peace can never be built on oppression and injustice
  • Jake O'Kane: When the fanatics stop fighting, the talking must start for peace between Israel and Palestine
  • Tom Collins: It's always innocents who pay price of war

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, even dressed his children for a Halloween party at the White House last week to show his support, with his son attired in the khaki gear style worn by the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, and his daughter in a costume of the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine. Support for Ukraine has also come in the form of billions of dollars and pounds provided in weaponry.

In the 560-odd days from that war started in February 2022 until mid-September 2023, some 9,614 civilians had been killed, with 554 children amongst that number.

Child victims of Gaza

In just three-and-a-half weeks since October 7, almost 4,000 children had been killed by Israel amongst a total number of civilians killed which already matches the total from the Ukrainian conflict. These statistics have been produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the lead UN organisation on human rights.

It is a statement of fact to say that, had Russia conducted its war with Ukraine in anything approaching the same level of brutality or callous disregard for the lives of civilians, including children, then the number of Ukrainian civilians killed in that conflict would be in the hundreds of thousands.

Read more:Mayo man trapped in Gaza still waiting for word on when can cross into Egypt

Craig Mokhiber is the former head of the United Nations Human Rights Office – former because, in a courageous personal act, he announced his resignation late last month from the position in protest at the appalling hypocrisy of which we can all bear testimony.

His words on the continuing genocide in Gaza carry considerable weight and should resonate: "Usually the most difficult part of proving genocide is intent because there has to be an intention to destroy in whole or in part a particular group. In this case the intent by Israeli leaders has been so explicitly stated and publicly stated by the prime minister, by the president, by senior cabinet ministers, by military leaders that that is an easy case to make. It's on the public record."

Gaza conflict 'beyond genocide'

Mr Mokhiber concluded by commenting that he was confident as a human rights lawyer in stating that what was unfolding in Gaza was "beyond genocide".

It is obscene and deeply cynical to label people as "anti-Semitic" for protesting in order to increase the pressure for a ceasefire and save countless innocent lives. This is a long-established tactic employed to close down criticism of Israel, and it is far from surprising – but no less contemptible – to hear British Tory ministers and voices in Ireland reaching for this play as part of their plan to give Israel cover to wage its war.

Read more:Sinn Fein leader calls for consequences to Israel ‘ignoring call for a ceasefire'

Indeed, many of the loudest and most passionate voices raised in defence of Palestinians are Jewish, including those who organised sit-in protests at the US Congress, New York's Grand Central Station and at London's Liverpool Street Station – just as many white South Africans dedicated their lives to fighting to end the appalling Apartheid regime in that country.

Calls for ceasefire

Remaining silent is to be complicit. The Irish government has pushed beyond most European states in calling for a ceasefire whilst not following a handful of countries across the globe in expelling Israeli diplomats. That only a small number of states have done this speaks to the widespread fear of provoking a backlash from Israel and its chief sponsor, the United States.

Last week, a UN resolution condemning the illegal and immoral blockade on Cuba was backed by 187 countries with only Israel and the USA opposing, and Ukraine abstaining.

When they show you who they are, believe them.