The Irish Congress of Trade Unions unequivocally condemns the ongoing attacks on civilians in Israel and Palestine in recent days. Deliberately targeting civilians, carrying out disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks which kill or injure civilians are war crimes. Our solidarity goes out to all Palestinian and Israeli families affected.
Israel has a horrific track record of committing war crimes with impunity in previous wars on Gaza. None of this can justify indiscriminate attacks and hostage taking. Palestinian armed groups from Gaza, must also refrain from targeting civilians and using indiscriminate weapons and must immediately release any hostages taken.
The violence must also be put in context. Almost six decades of hostile military rule over an entire civilian population are in themselves a form of violence, and a recipe for more insecurity for all.
A recent Congress delegation to the region witnessed all of this including the accelerated growth of illegal settlements, effectively stealing land from Palestinians. Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied Territories face persecution and denial of human rights by an occupying power in breach of international law. Palestinians in Israel face persecution and denial of human rights in what is now an apartheid state.
The Israeli complete blockade of Gaza – no electricity, no food, no fuel, and humanitarian corridors closed – is completely unacceptable and contrary to international law. The accompanying bombardment of Gaza is not a conflict of equals but rather a government with one of the most powerful armies in the world inflicting terror on the 2 million people of Gaza – the most densely populated area in the world. Gazans have nowhere to flee. They are a population under siege and undoubtedly many hundreds of people including children have been killed and will continue to be killed. A humanitarian catastrophe has already begun there.
We reiterate our support for the campaign of peaceful resistance – Boycott Divestment and Sanction call from Civil Society in Palestine. As the leadership of the Irish Trade Union movement, we call for government sanctions and an embargo on all security-military trade and joint military research. Surely now is the time for the Irish government to enact the Occupied Territories Bill and the Illegal Israeli Settlements Divestment Bill, demand the lifting of the siege of Gaza, and to publicly acknowledge Israeli apartheid and act to end it.
We also encourage our affiliates to take action where they can on investments, pension funds, procurement, and boycotting illegal goods from the Occupied Territories and those produced under an apartheid system.
We support Palestinian civil society demands for a just resolution based on international law; an end to the occupation, full rights for Palestinian citizens in Israel, and the implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. The violence, trauma, and killing reminds us again of the consequences of the collective inertia of the international community and enduring failure to achieve a political resolution to this conflict. We urge an immediate ending of this current bout of fighting and reiterate our position that security is only achievable by adherence to international law and realizing equal rights of all to live in dignity, freedom, and peace.