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Action required to force Israel into ceasefire - McDonald

3 January, 2009

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, speaking at a rally organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Committee in Dublin today, called for an immediate end to Israel's slaughter of Palestinian people in Gaza. Ms. McDonald stressed that international pressure must focus on persuading Israel to end its aggressive campaign which has seen at least 435 people killed in just over a week.

She said the humanitarian cost of an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza would be catastrophic and called for action from the international community to make Israel implement an immediate ceasefire.

Ms. McDonald said, "As I speak here today I am conscious that the Israeli bombardment of Gaza is continuing unabated and Israeli tanks are preparing for a massive ground offensive. The humanitarian cost of such an offensive would be catastrophic.

"The work of the international community must be intensified to force Israel to listen to the calls for an immediate ceasefire. I am calling for an end to all military activity in Gaza from both sides of the conflict but lets be clear - what is happening in Gaza is the slaughter of Palestinian people by an aggressive Israeli regime with high schools and crèches among the buildings targeted. Innocent children have been killed and maimed and will continue to be targeted unless Israel calls a ceasefire.

"Of course what is required is an end to all hostilities but we have to be clear that it is Israel who is the aggressor here and it is Israel who have killed at least 435 people in just over a week while Hamas rockets in response to this bombardment have killed four.

"The time for tough words from international leaders has been and gone. It is clear that Israel is not listening as its campaign continues and a ground offensive looks imminent. Now is the time for action. Sinn Féin is calling for a suspension of the European-Mediterranean Association Agreement which underpins preferential trade with Israel as a way of forcing Israel's hand and bring about a ceasefire and an end to the killing.

"The Irish Government has a role to play here and should push this approach at EU level. It is time to follow up the tough words of Micheál Martin with action. I would urge all international leaders to consider this approach and others to bring about an end to the killings in Gaza and to prevent a ground offensive from Israel.

"World peace and stability is in the interests and responsibilities of all sovereign nations and that includes peace in the Middle East. What is required is of course security for Israel and a free Palestinian state but the days of Israel using the excuse of security to slaughter innocent Palestinians must be brought to an end." ENDS

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