Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The situation in the besieged Palestinian Gaza Strip grew even more dire on Friday, as Israel bombed internet and telecommunications facilities, plunging the occupied territory into an information black hole, as Israeli military incursions began. All day Friday the Israeli Air Force subjected the desperately poor, densely populated cities of Gaza to intensive bombardment, recklessly endangering civilian noncombatants. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and other aid agencies ominously announced that they have lost contact with their employees inside Gaza.
Also on Friday, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a Jordanian resolution sponsored by 22 Arab countries calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. 120 countries out of 193 voted for the resolution, as 45 abstained and only 14 voted against, including the United States, Israel, and some tiny Pacific islands that the US bribes to vote with Washington.
The resolution was warmly backed by Ireland’s Micheál Martin, Tánaiste [deputy prime minister], Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence.
In a speech given on Friday, Mr. Martin said, “Tonight, Ireland supported the UN General Assembly Resolution on the crisis in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip requires the international community to speak strongly. The resolution emphasises the urgent need for humanitarian assistance which civilians in Gaza so desperately need.”
Gaza requires 500 trucks of aid a day, since it is blockaded by Israel. A little over 50 trucks have been permitted into the Strip since the October 7 Hamas atrocities and war crimes.
On Thursday, Ireland’s Taoseach [Prime Minister], Leo Varadkar attended a European Union summit where he also pressed, along with Spain, for the 27-nation organization to call for a ceasefire. They did not, with Israel hawks Germany and Austria objecting, though the summit communique did speak of the need for humanitarian pauses so aid could get in to Palestinian non-combatants.
Varadkar said he understood where Germany and Austria were coming from, given that the Holocaust took place on their soil. He added, however, that the EU was moderating its position: “If you went back to three weeks ago, it appeared that the European Union was supporting Israel without any equivocation or qualification – that changed a week or so ago to continuing to support Israel’s right to defend itself but emphasising the supremacy of international law, humanitarian law, to yesterday, 27 countries calling for a pause to allow aid to get in and to allow citizens and hostages to get out. So I think you’re seeing an evolving position there.”
The typical Israeli government tactic of attempting to smear supporters of Palestinian rights as terrorists did not spare the entire country of Ireland. An official in the Israeli embassy in Dublin falsely claimed that Ireland had helped finance the Hamas tunnels under Gaza. According to BreakingNews: “Adi Ophir Maoz, the deputy head of mission for the Israeli Embassy in Ireland, made the claim on X, formerly Twitter.” Ms Maoz wrote: “Ireland wondering who funded those tunnels of terror? A short investigation direction – 1. Find a mirror. 2. Direct it to yourself. 3. Voilà.” The posting was taken down when it became clear that the allegation was false. The Israeli embassy implicitly reprimanded Ms. Maoz, saying that her posting did not reflect Israeli policies.
On Thursday, Tánaiste Micheál Martin warned Israel against violations of international humanitarian law. He said, the “entire population of Gaza can’t be collectively punished.” He added, “Israel’s perspective is that Hamas hides behind the population of Gaza and has its infrastructure, but you can’t bomb entire residential blocks to get at them.” He continued, “I think Israel has a right to go after Hamas and deal with Hamas. The issue is how what methodology do you use, and proportionality.”
Martin insisted, “The population can’t be collateral damage to the degree it is now.” He added, “International humanitarian law exists for a reason.”
“If you keep bombing Gaza, you will generate more martyrs for the future. You will create a more hardline radicalised extreme position. Moderation has not been supported within the Palestinian community to the way it should have been over last number of years – with the result that the Palestinian Authority now is less credible within its own ranks in the West Bank and is under pressure from more radical elements.”
He branded this outcome a “fundamental strategic failure of Israel and others.” He concluded, “When this conflict is over, Europe has to become more influential and effective. We can’t leave it to the US all the time.”