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Charges of war crimes by Israel in Gaza must be investigated

19 January, 2009

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has this afternoon backed the UN Relief and Works Agency Gaza Operations Chief’s calls for investigators to be sent into Gaza to examine charges of war crimes by Israel. Ms McDonald also said that EU plans to extend trade agreements must remain on hold until questions of human rights abuses by Israel are answered and that existing trade arrangements must also remain in question.
The Dublin MEP:
“I welcome the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas however the fact remains that Israel has questions to answer regarding the targeting of civilians and UN buildings as well as the use of white phosphorous throughout its military attack on Gaza over the last three weeks.
“Until these questions have been answered the European Union cannot resume its plans to increase its preferential trade arrangements with Israel. The EU cannot continue to shirk its responsibility to promote peace in the region. That means tough actions to follow tough talk.
“Israel enjoys many economic privileges from its relationship with the EU. However Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Agreement obliges Israel to abide by generally recognised principles of international law and the Association Agreement article 2 of which makes preferential trade conditional on Israel respecting human rights and democratic principles. Israel is now, and arguably always has been, in breach of these agreements.
“In the interim Israel must end its blockade of Gaza and open up ALL border checkpoints to allow the maximum amount of food and medical aid in. The international community must also act to ensure that the necessary reparations are put in place as quickly as possible so that the rebuilding of Gaza can begin. Hundreds of thousands of people are without access to water and sanitation and many thousands more are returning home to find their homes and communities destroyed.
“A report issued late last year by the International Committee of the Red Cross detailed the ‘devastating’ effect of Israel’s blockade in place since the summer of 2007 and outlined in detail the ensuing chronic malnutrition in Gaza. The report also noted that the heavy restrictions on all major sectors of Gaza's economy, compounded by a cost of living increase of at least 40%, was causing ‘progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70% of Gaza's population’. It report also stated that these realities were in turn is forcing people to cut household expenditures down to ‘survival levels’.
“Sinn Féin’s Justice and International Affairs Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD will be calling for a full debate next week on Gaza and I am urging people to consider donating to Irish Medical Aid for Palestine organisation which was set up in November 2007 to address the shortfall of medical resources in the region as a result of the ongoing conflict and the effects of Israel’s blockade.” ENDS

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