Crowds rallied in support of Palestine outside Leinster House this evening at a demonstration organised by the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) alongside students’ unions and People Before Profit (PBP).
The “emergency solidarity protest”, supported by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), was called following major escalation of conflict in occupied Gaza over the weekend which continues to intensify.
Speakers at the event included USI Vice President for Campaigns Zaid Albarghouthi, Richard Boyd Barrett TD of PBP, Ibrahim Halawa, and a number of Palestinian voices.
Albarghouthi, who is of Palestinian origin, told attendees that they were taking “a position against war [and] killing.”
“We are, of course, in favour of liberty for the Palestinian people, equal rights for the Palestinian people, a livelihood for the Palestinian people.”
Former TCDSU International Officer Albarghouthi continued: “The values of standing against oppression, standing against war, are clearly apparent in the student movement, and they will still be apparent in the student movement.”
“We are against war and we are against people losing their lives. This is what this crowd is here to advocate for,” he said as he concluded his remarks.Zaid Albarghouthi. Photo by Rory Chinn for Trinity News
Attendees heard calls for an end to the bombardment and blockade of Gaza, and for more support and solidarity for Palestinians from government and the wider international community.
Following the conclusion of the rally, protestors began marching from the front of Leinster House towards the Israeli Embassy.
In a press release, the IAWM called for a de-escalation and an immediate ceasefire, citing the need for “meaningful peace negotiations that recognises as an objective a just peace for the people of Palestine”.
“Only a diplomatic peace process that ends the Israeli occupation, ends the Israeli siege of Gaza and ends the Israeli system of apartheid will ensure an end to the continued violence and offer the possibility of a peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians,” the IAWM said.
The movement also called on government to take “immediate and urgent action to stop Israel’s revenge and reprisal against Gaza’s civilian population”.
On Saturday, Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a full-scale military operation against Israel entitled Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the first such direct incursion into what is broadly-recognised Israeli territory since the latter’s declaration of independence in 1948.
In retaliation, Israel launched its own counter-offensive, shelling the Gaza strip and cutting off all water and electricity to the enclave, which, according to the United Nations, has been subject to a long-standing illegal Israeli blockade.
On Sunday, Israel declared a “state of war” against Hamas.
As of writing, more than 1300 people are reported to have been killed since the outbreak of the conflict, including over 800 in Israel and some 500 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
In a post to Twitter on Saturday, TCDSU President László Molnárfi said: “Palestinians have the right to resist the brutal conditions imposed on them by the apartheid regime of Israel.”
Molnárfi was responding to a Tweet by Táinaiste Mícheál Martin, who “strongly condemned the firing of rockets” by Hamas and called for “an immediate cessation of all hostilities”.
Government has condemned the Hamas attack on Israel and have called for the renewal of efforts to facilitate a peace process to bring hostilities to an end.
Additional reporting from Conor Healy and Emily Sheehan.