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Galway’s empty plates protest puts spotlight on Israel’s ‘forced starvation’

Galwegians held empty plates and cooking pots aloft at Galway Courthouse on Saturday week last to protest Israel’s forced starvation of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The group – which included artists, healthcare workers, teachers and activists – called on the Irish Government to do more, as Oxfam revealed that people in northern Gaza are surviving on just 245 calories a day. That’s less than twelve per cent of the daily intake needed for survival.

“Ireland’s intervention in South Africa’s case against Israel in the International Court of Justice to argue that restriction of food and humanitarian aid constitutes genocidal intent is a welcome step, but it won’t save Gaza’s children from dying of hunger. Only an immediate ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian and medical aid will,” said one of the event organisers, artist and producer Ríonach Ní Néill.

As it stands, families in Gaza are going multiple days without any food at all – and the protestors claimed that Israel has openly and repeatedly declared its intention to use starvation as a weapon of war.

They pointed to the words of     Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant – as early as October 9 – when he said: “We are putting a complete siege on Gaza … no electricity, no food, no water, no gas; it’s all closed”.

The protestors were told that Israel is blocking food and humanitarian aid from entering Gaza and has destroyed the aid distribution system through targeting and killing Palestinian and international aid workers, and refusing to allow UNRWA, the largest aid provider, to operate.

Israeli civilians have also participated in the blockade, physically preventing food supplies from entering Gaza.

In addition to this, Israel has destroyed domestic food production in Gaza.

Up to 50% of the strip’s agricultural land has been razed, and farmers cannot access the remaining land to cultivate crops.

More than half a million people in Gaza are now believed to be at the most severe Phase 5 ‘catastrophic’ level of food insecurity, meaning a high risk of mass starvation and death, added Ríonach Ní Néill.

Pictured: Galway artists making their empty plates protest against what they called Israel’s forced starvation of the people of Gaza. Photo: Avi Ratnayake.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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