Cllr Paddy McDonald (SF).

Starting to look like ‘genocide’ - criticism of Gaza attacks

DEBATE Councillor calls for boycott of Israeli goods

Cavan County Councillors have condemned the “ongoing attack on Gaza” by the Israeli army, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, with several describing the current situation as verging on “genocide”.

They also condemned the unprecedented assault on Israel by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip on October 7, which saw the killing of 1,200 people and the taking of more than 240 hostages, and prompted the current escalation in violence.

Since then close to 19,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced following military incursions and relentless airstrikes led by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

Supporting an immediate ceasefire, the council hit out against the US Government, which last week used emergency authority to sanction the $100 million sale of about 14,000 tank shells to Israel, without first passing congressional review.

The motion was tabled by Sinn Féin’s Paddy McDonald, and received widespread support from within the chamber, with an addendum only to condemn also the actions of Hamas.

“What Israel has inflicted on the people on Gaza since cannot be justified,” said Cllr McDonald, who supported recent statements made by An Tánaiste Micheál Martin in relation to allowing international aid to reach Gaza.

The Bailieborough representative further called on consumers and businesses alike to “remember the power” of the South African boycotts here in the 1980s, while suggesting war crimes committed in Israel and Gaza should be prosecuted at the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Israeli goods should be shunned until a lasting peace is restored in the region,” he stated. “There should be immediate ceasefires, followed by the release of all hostages and the unconditional adherence to international law, the UN charter and full investigative powers need to be given to the International Criminal Court.”

The motion was supported by members across the political spectrum within the chamber.

Fine Gael’s T.P. O’Reilly, condemning actions on both sides, said what is happening in Gaza at the present time is “starting to look like genocide”.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” he said taking a pragmatic overview of the on-off conflict that has raged for decades. “We need a ceasefire,” he stated steadfastly.

It was Fianna Fáil’s John Paul Feeley who sought to amend the original motion to also condemn the actions of Hamas, but said that the IDF response had now become “irresponsible, disproportionate, and unwarranted”.

“What’s happening is very wrong,” he said, also commending the Tánaiste’s comments.

“The Irish government’s approach has been very strong,” added Cllr Feeley.

He said the Irish position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been such dating back to 1980 and the famously outspoken statement by then foreign minister Brian Lenihan supporting Palestinian “self-determination”.

But he reminded “Israel also has a place in the world”.

“Israel has a right to exist and a a right to defend itself,” said Cllr Feeley, who stated that Hamas has “brought death and destruction” on a scale never before seen, and their role of power in the middle east also impacted the rights of women and the LGBT community. “I condemn Hamas unequivocally.”

Independent Brendan Fay, a dual Irish-US passport holder, spoke out against the role of the American government.

He too described what was happening as “genocide”.

“Anything we can do as a small county in a small country we need to do.”

He suggested the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was because “because they didn’t like Putin”, but that world powers had been slow to offer similar levels of condemnation over what has happened to the Palestinian people over generations.

“It’s not right and it should end tomorrow.”

There was support too for the motions from Fianna Fáil’s Clifford Kelly, Patricia Walsh and Áine Smith, and from Fine Gael’s Trevor Smith.

Cathaoirleach Philip Brady also backed the motion, saying it was “barbaric what’s happening in the world at the moment”. Closing out the discussion, Cllr McDonald thanked his fellow elected members for their support.

He claimed the Israeli intelligence services had helped support a militant strain of political Islam in the form of Hamas, and as such “has to take responsibility” for what has happened since.

He too launched a barb towards the American government and its influence in assisting one side over the other. “America will tell you they’re the great freedom fighters of the world. They’ve a short memory.”