Hundreds of demonstrators gather outside UHG as part of Gaza Solidarity Vigil

By Joseph Murray

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside University Hospital Galway on Thursday evening (19 October) as part of a Gaza Solidarity Vigil in honour of the victims of the Al-Ahli Hospital bombing.

Mourners attended with Palestinian flags, candles and signs calling for an end to the conflict between Hamas and Israeli forces.

One of the organisers, Rania Muhareb, told Galway Pulse of the urgent need for a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Conflicting views

The strip is still reeling since the bombing of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital last Tuesday, 17 October, in the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian officials, the strike killed nearly 500 civilians, including children, health workers and patients.

The Gaza Health Ministry says the death toll from Israeli attacks now stands at 3,785, including 1,524 children, while 12,493 others have also been reported injured.

Following the strike, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on social media saying that the strike was carried out by Gaza-based terrorists, rather than the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

This is something that has been reiterated by the IDF, who have released videos alleging that it was failed rockets by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation that struck the hospital.

“Disputing of facts”

One of the organisers of the Gaza Solidarity Vigil was Rania Muhareb, a Palestinian PhD researcher at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in the School of Law at the University of Galway.

She believes that the allegations from the Israeli camp are untrue, saying, “We’ve seen really this classic disputing of the facts … and evasion of responsibility from the Israeli occupying forces.

“You will have seen potentially that soon after the bombing happened, the Israeli military tweeted that they had warned the hospital to evacuate the same way they had warned all the other hospitals to evacuate.

“As soon as the images of the civilian casualties came out, they withdrew that statement … then they said that this was a misfire from Palestinian Jihad. This has already been disproven in multiple reports since Tuesday.”

“Ceasefire is urgent”

Ms Muhareb has lived in Galway for the past three years and is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Ireland, a non-profit that campaigns for justice in Palestine and aims to raise awareness about the ongoing situation.

Having lived through the tension herself and now advocating for justice in her new community, she has outlined the essential steps needed to restore basic human rights in the area.

“In the very immediate term, a ceasefire is urgent… entry of humanitarian aid and medical supplies, because the hospitals are in critical, critical conditions.

“And of course [we need] the entry of water, fuel, and electricity, which have been completely cut off since 9 October from the Gaza Strip … and the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.”

Though the conflict appears to be some way from a resolution, short-term respite has finally become available for Palestinian civilians, as 20 humanitarian aid trucks entered Gaza via the Rafah Crossing on Saturday morning.

The crossing is the sole crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip but had been closed off during negotiations between the USA, Israel, Egypt and the UN

It is hoped that the next round of aid trucks will be permitted to cross the border on Monday (23 October).

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