Ireland with his eight-year-old son. His daughter, who is 26-years-old, is in Gaza with his older brother. Today, after calling many times, he got a voice message from her confirming that she is OK.
“She said she was sending a voice message, just in case I wanted to hear the sound of her voice, because she knows… she knows that I am worried,” he said.
Akram has played that voice message more than once. He was amongst a large crowd that carried out a peaceful demonstration in front of Dáil Eireann in Dublin city today.
The message the crowd was there to deliver is very clear – they want to see the Israeli ambassador in Ireland expelled, as a move of solidarity with the people of Palestine by the Irish Government.
Long after the person with the microphone went home, a Palestinian man with a hoarse voice led the chanting crowd, which was made up of Irish people, Palestinians, and people from other countries living in Ireland.
Multiple speakers gave speeches in which they detailed Israel’s “war crimes”, which included, in their view, the bombing of the Baptist Hospital in Gaza last night. Israel has blamed a militant group for the bombing – the Islamic Jihads – but they have refuted the accusations, and insisted that Israel is responsible.
The full facts of the attack on the hospital are not yet clear.
Two Palestinian women Salem, and Sarah, who attended the protest, said that from what they know, they believe the state of Israel was behind the attack.
Sarah said she came to the protest in “They have killed about 1,000 children. They demolished houses there in Gaza. They left them without water and food, and electricity, so we have to do something. When you see a hospital being bombed, you have to raise your voice.
“We need stronger support from the Irish Government. The support is appreciated, but we need to see the Israeli ambassador leave, because Ireland can see what is happening with the occupation,” she added.
Her friend Sara said: “We are weak here. We are helpless, there is so little we can do to stand with our brothers and sisters in Gaza, so I have come here to raise my voice, and let people know that this isn’t a religious war taking place.”
“I don’t have family in Gaza, my family are from Haifa. But every single Palestinian in Gaza there is my family. I want to go back to Palestine, but I cannot. We are here because we are weak, and standing here is one of the only things we can do to feel strong,” Salem said.
“We are ok, we are safe, but they are not. They cannot eat, they cannot drink, and we can do so little to help,” she added.
Aziz was there this evening too. He is Palestinian-Irish. He was born here, and has spent his whole life in Ireland with his younger brother Hassam and their family. They have never been to Palestine, but they are in regular contact with their aunt, uncle, and cousins who are in Gaza at the moment.
“We just keep calling until someone picks up. When you hear their voices and you know they are okay in that moment, it’s a relief – but they are under attack. They are told to evacuate but there is nowhere to go. Provisions are low. It is scary to think, what will the outcome be,” he said.
After struggling to reach the centre of the crowd, 24-year-old Aziz asked the organisers of the protest if he could speak.
“If Columbia can expel their Israel ambassador, why can’t we? We can. We must!” he shouted into the megaphone.
“The support I’ve seen, especially from the Irish people, has been incredible, it makes me proud to be from this country as well. We all know that what Israel is doing over the last 12 days isn’t something new, or surprising. It has been doing this for the last 75 years to the Palestinian people.
“Yesterday I saw a video of the European President. She was talking about Ukraine, it was one year ago, in October 2022, she called Russia terrorists for cutting water and supplies from the Ukrainian people, but she didn’t say that about the Palestinians. She said Israel has a right to defend itself,” Aziz said.
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been one of the few European leaders to have called on Israel to allow humanitarian corridors to be opened into Gaza. He also condemned the targeting of civilian infrastructure, and cutting off water and power in Gaza.
Today, the Tanaiste Micheál Martin approved an immediate aid package of €13m for the people of Palestine, which will be split between the UN relief and works agency, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The latest resurgence of violence in Palestine and Israel comes after Israel declared all out war, and besieged the Gaza strip, in response to deadly attacks by the Islamist Militant group Hamas.
Since then, it is estimated that nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, and over 1,300 Israelis were killed in Hamas attacks. Hamas is thought to be holding 199 Israeli people hostage.
People have been asked to evacuate their homes in Northern Gaza, but there are few opportunities to cross out of Gaza, and the South is already crowded with provisions running low. A ground invasion of the North by Israeli forces is expected.
Source : Thejournal