Michelle Devane, PA
Thousands of people have gathered in Dublin to show their solidarity with the people of Palestine in the midst of an ongoing conflict with Israel.
Large crowds assembled around the Spire on O’Connell Street on Saturday afternoon calling for an end to violence against the Palestinian people.
The protesters marched through the city to the Israeli embassy in Ballsbridge chanting “Free Palestine” and carrying banners calling for the end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and for a stop to the genocide.
The Palestinian flag was waved in the air alongside the Irish tri-colour and Algerian and Pakistani national flags.
Similar demonstrations took place in Belfast, Cork and Galway – but on a smaller scale.
In the capital, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, who attended the rally, called for an end to the “apartheid state”.
“Why does the world continue to treat Israeli as a normal state,” he asked the crowd.
“It is precisely because we oppose racism that we must oppose the Israeli state. We must demand the dismantling of the Israeli state.
“In its very essence this State is about racism. It’s about giving preferential treatment to one group at the expense of the other.
“In no other place in the world would this be tolerated. When we say ‘one state, one Palestine’ it is about ending the horror of racism and apartheid, saying a Jew, an Arab and a Christian and people of no religion all have equal rights in the land of Palestine.”
Former RTÉ broadcaster Mike Murphy also attended the protest. He said he was delighted with the high turnout in support of Palestine.
“I visited Israel and Palestine two years ago, so I saw at first-hand how the Palestinian people were being treated,” he said. “I came back and was simply appalled by the whole thing.
“I went on the airwaves and spoke about my disgust about what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinian people. One of the problems is you become accused of being anti-Semitic which is a smokescreen to hide behind.
“I’m not anti-Semitic at all but I deeply resent what the Israelis are doing.”
He said he was “deeply disappointed” by US president Joe Biden and the US administration for not taking a stance against the violence and he praised the Irish Government for speaking out about the violence.
Mr Murphy added: “We’ve had our own history of oppression and we should be raising a furore over what is happening and standing by the Palestinian people.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said it was “not acceptable” that children were being killed by Israeli fire.
He tweeted on Saturday: “32 children killed since Monday in #Gaza by Israeli fire – that’s approx 1/4 of all fatalities – It’s not acceptable! Israel has [international] legal obligation to protect children in conflict & [are] not doing so! #Ireland will speak forcefully again at UNSC tomorrow.”
In response to a Unicef social media post detailing the deaths of a further eight Palestinian children in the Gaza strip, Mr Coveney tweeted: “This cannot be acceptable to the International Community.
“#UNSecurityCouncil needs to speak with one voice to hold those responsible to account.”
The protests came as the Associated Press reported that an Israeli air strike destroyed a high-rise building that housed the AP, Al-Jazeera and other media in the Gaza Strip.
The news agency said there was no immediate explanation as to why the building was targeted.
Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee from their homes after a week of sustained conflict.
Since Monday night, Palestinian militant group Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, whose military responded by barraging the Gaza Strip with tank fire and air strikes.
At least 126 people have been killed in Gaza, including 31 children and 20 women.
In Israel seven people have been killed, including a six-year-old boy and a soldier.