PRESS RELEASE
25.01.08
 
 
Irish-EU policy on Gaza has failed so far says Trocaire director


 
Speaking about the current Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and the destruction of a section of the wall dividing Egypt and Gaza this week, Justin Kilcullen, Director of aid agency Trocaire said “Because of Israel’s military occupation 80% of Gaza’s population rely on food aid from the outside world.  To prevent this aid from entering Gaza is an intolerable act of punishment.  The Israeli government must immediately lift the humanitarian blockade on the Gaza Strip.”  
 
“Israel’s decision to cut-off electricity supplies to Gaza has driven people to take desperate measures.  Cutting off electricity means people don’t have clean drinking water, proper sewage facilities and hospitals can’t function properly.  Recently people haven’t even been able to safely bury their dead because of a shortage in materials,” said Justin Kilcullen who has recently returned from a visit to the region.
 
“The increased violence by both Israelis and Palestinians has led to more intense and acute suffering for ordinary civilians.  Attacks on civilians, by both sides, constitute war crimes under international law,” Justin Kilcullen said.
 
Justin Kilcullen met with Minister Dermot Ahern this week to present the government with a petition signed by over 3,000 people calling on the Irish government to take a more active role in the Middle East. The petition was the result of a public awareness campaign run by Trocaire last year to highlight the impact of 40 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine.
 
“The Irish government has supported the EU’s policy of boycotting Hamas. This is a failed strategy, which is isolating the people of Gaza and urgently needs to be reversed.   Without inclusion of all parties, including Hamas, in the Annapolis peace process attempts to resolve the crisis in Gaza are certain to fail,” Justin Kilcullen said.
 
“The scale of suffering inside the Gaza Strip - where two thirds of people face uncertainty about where their next meal will come from - only confirms the cycle of violence and will not lead to increased security for either Israelis or Palestinians.”
 
Trócaire has been supporting local Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organisations in Palestine since 2002 and is currently responding to the situation in Gaza. “There are 1.5 million Palestinians squeezed into an area half the size of county Wexford. For almost seven years they have been caged into Gaza with very few chances to leave” according to Justin Kilcullen. “Palestinians living in Gaza are being treated worse then animals in a zoo. Ireland must do everything we can to end Israel’s collective punishment of civilians, which is a flagrant breach of international law.”
 
 
ENDS
 
For further information contact:
 
Catherine Ginty
Communications Coordinator
Trocaire
Maynooth
Co. Kildare
P: +353 (0)1 5053270
M: +353 (0)86 6293994