Thursday, 24th July, 2014

Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, has said we need accountability in any investigation of the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians in the Gaza conflict. Over the last 16 days almost 700 Palestinians, mostly civilians; and 34 Israelis, the majority of which were soldiers, have been killed. Thousands more have been injured and displaced from their homes during this time.

“In the aftermath of the 2009 conflict, the Goldstone Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was published. The report proposed a number of recommendations to deal with the hostilities in Gaza going forward. It would appear that none of these findings have yet been acted upon. Now is the time to implement these recommendations as they are just as valid today as they were in 2009.

“I am now calling for accountability by both sides involved in the current conflict and active urgent engagement by the international community including the Human Rights Council, the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court and the General Assembly. Both sides must end the violence immediately so that talks can begin again in a calm environment.

“Having met with one of the co-authors of the Goldstone Report, I strongly contend that rather than instigating a new investigation, which will invariably delay matters, lets act upon the recommendations already endorsed by the Irish government, along with 114 other states, in 2009. This will save time and lives.

“Recommendations of the Goldstone Report include:

  • Israel should initiate a review of the rules of engagement, standard operating procedures, open fire regulations and other guidance for military and security personnel;
  • Palestinian armed groups should undertake forthwith to respect international humanitarian law, in particular by renouncing attacks on Israeli civilians and civilian objects, and take all feasible precautionary measures to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians during hostilities;
  • Donor countries/assistance providers should continue to support the work of Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations in documenting and publicly reporting on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and advising relevant authorities on their compliance with international law;

“Last October I had the experience of travelling to Gaza and the West Bank to see first-hand the difficulties of daily life for Palestinians in these areas. I was astounded by the personal toil inflicted on ordinary civilians and the extent of the limitations on their daily lives. Yet despite such adversity I was overwhelmed by their welcome and desire to maintain an ordinary existence, particularly for the sake of their young children.

“Recalling how difficult life already was for Palestinians, I am horrified at recent events and the rising death toll, particularly amongst innocent women and children. Attacks on civilian centres such as homes, recreational facilities, schools and hospitals cannot be condoned by the international community.

“The current day hostilities are highly reminiscent of the 2009 conflict during which 1400 people were killed. Similar to the recent attack on Al-Aqsa hospital where 3 people were killed, in 2009 the Al Quds and Al Wafa hospitals were also hit. Attacks on civilian hospitals, schools and homes are morally wrong and it is clear that the lessons from these previous atrocities have not been learned. It is time for this madness to stop so that preventative measures can be discussed in order to ensure this region never again experiences conflict on this scale.”