Irish officials condemn Israel’s destruction of Irish aid to Palestinians in Hamsa al-Bqai’a

Dublin (QNN)- Several Irish officials have condemned Israel’s destruction of Irish aid to Palestinians in Hamsa al-Bqai’a in the northern Jordan Valley.

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that on 16 February, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) confiscated five donor-funded livelihood tents in Hamsa al-Bqai’a, as the tents were being assembled to provide shelter to the community and their livestock.

The “Irish Aid – Government of Ireland” logos are clearly visible among the debris of broken solar panels, children’s belongings and destroyed tents, marking items donated to the Palestinian families by a European Union umbrella group that includes Ireland among its donors.

“The destruction of Irish and EU humanitarian support for Palestinians by Israel is a disgrace. The Israeli government must be held accountable for their actions by the EU and the international community,” said the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Colum Eastwood.

Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, has described the demolitions as “beyond disgusting.”

Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin Senator also said, “As the pandemic raged, the village of Khirbet Humsah was repeatedly razed by Israeli forces. The “Irish Aid – Government of Ireland” logos clearly visible among the debris of broken solar panels, children’s belongings and destroyed tents. #FreePalestine.”

“This is appalling. Ireland has a proud record of assistance in the Middle East. We need a sustainable peace, based around a two-state solution. Israel’s policies and practices must be challenged by the international community,” said Stephen Farry, member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly.

Conor O’Neill, a researcher with Christian Aid, which works with local partners in the occupied territories, told The Irish Times that the events underscored that Irish policy needed to evolve beyond providing aid and issuing statements of condemnation.

“This kind of thing happens in a context of near total impunity, in which really, really serious breaches of international law are met with strongly worded statements but nothing beyond that,” O’Neill said.

“The question is what is the long-term strategy? Are we going to keep funding houses and schools, see as they are destroyed, and then fund them to be rebuilt?”

On 1 February, Israeli occupation forces confiscated 25 structures in Hamsa Al-Bqai’a Bedouin community on the alleged basis that they lacked an Israeli building permit for construction in Area C.

On 3 February, Israeli occupation forces returned to seize a further 21 structures. Sixty Palestinians have been uprooted from their homes, including 35 children. Structures demolished included 21 homes, 17 livestock shelters, and 8 water and hygiene facilities.

The European Union, 10 of its member states, including Ireland, and the United Kingdom had funded 29 of the structures in November 2020, after Israel destroyed or seized 83 structures in the community in the largest single demolition incident recorded in recent years.

Since the start of 2021, Israeli authorities have demolished at least 153 structures, three times the same period last year. In 2020, Israeli authorities demolished 848 Palestinians structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, a 36 per cent increase compared with 2019.

Hamsa Al-Bqai’a community has received material assistance from the West Bank Protection Consortium, a strategic partnership of five international NGOs, 11 European donors, and EU Humanitarian Aid, formed to prevent the forcible transfer of Palestinians in the West Bank.

The United Nations described it as the biggest single demolition in a decade, adding to a toll of destruction of some 689 structures by Israel across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2020 that the UN says made 869 Palestinians homeless.

The Palestinian issue has long occupied a place in the Irish consciousness far greater than geographic, economic, or political considerations appear to merit.

Ireland in particular has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause. The origins of this solidarity come down to both the similarities and differences between the Irish and Palestinian national struggles.

“The Irish people, as a colonised people living for centuries under British occupation, have instinctively identified with freedom struggles across the globe,” Gerry Adams, Irish republican and president of Sinn Féin, the largest Irish nationalist party in both the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland that still belong to the United Kingdom (UK), told Middle East Eye in 2015.

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