Further protests held in Dublin over ‘unconscionable’ conditions in Gaza

Healthcare system in Gaza is ‘being demolished’, says Dublin-based GP in demonstration at Israeli embassy

Further protests against the war in Gaza were held at the weekend, including a rally of thousands of people in Dublin on Saturday and a smaller demonstration by healthcare workers at the Israeli embassy on Sunday.

“The whole healthcare system in Gaza is being demolished,” said Dr Angela Skuce, a Dublin-based general practitioner who organised Sunday’s protest.

“The Nasser hospital is now under siege and they’ve got no electricity, no water, no oxygen, no food. We’re all healthcare workers in Ireland and we have seen people in our care die of oxygen hunger. It’s horrendous to think that that is happening in a hospital in Gaza at the moment, it’s just unconscionable.”

Two participants in Sunday’s protest, a child psychiatrist and a speech-and-language therapist, wanted to raise awareness of the long-term consequences of the trauma children in Gaza have suffered, said Dr Skuce. “Children who go through that much trauma don’t recover. Even if they survive physically, they’re not going to be the same when they’re adults.”


Dr Skuce also warned of the young, inexperienced doctors in Gaza who were being left to care for seriously injured and ill patients without resources or support, citing the example of one young general surgeon in Nasser hospital who is one of the few healthcare workers left at the facility.

“He’s in his 20s and there are doctors around the world who are guiding him through operations over WhatsApp. Somebody is holding up a phone and he’s speaking to a surgeon in the UK and they’re telling him to cut there, clamp there, stitch that. And he’s just a young guy working without oxygen or electricity. And now there’s silence from him. There’s been no communication for him from for two days.”

Speaking at the Dublin rally on Saturday, Leila Shomali (29), who is originally from Palestine, said she was concerned the world would become desensitised to the war. “I think that’s something that we should not allow to happen because genocide should not be normalised and tolerated,” she said.

Ms Shomali, who is undertaking a PhD in international law and moved to Ireland two years ago, said she has been “distraught” watching what had been happening in Gaza. “It’s my people, and it’s very personal to me. But seeing the type of solidarity that the Irish people have demonstrated towards Palestinians has given me a lot of hope,” she said.

Irish actor Liam Cunningham said the protests in support of Palestine were not “fizzling out”, but getting bigger. “I’m on the march because our Government is not doing what the Irish people want … We’re sick of the words, we want action,” he said.

The protest in Dublin on Saturday, which went from the Garden of Remembrance to the Department of Foreign Affairs, drew more than 10,000 people.

One man was arrested for public order offences, gardaí said. He has since been charged to appear before court at a later date.

The healthcare protest in Ballsbridge came just days after Israeli forces raided the Nasser hospital in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis on Thursday, the Gaza Strip’s largest functioning hospital. Israeli forces have arrested 100 people at the hospital amid mounting fears for patients and staff trapped inside, as Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with a ground offensive in Rafah.

At least 120 patients and five medical teams were trapped without water, food and electricity in the hospital, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza.

“Newborn children are at risk of dying in the next few hours,” the ministry warned on Saturday. It added that troops had turned the hospital into a “military base” and detained “a large number” of medical staff after raiding the complex on Thursday.

Dr Skuce admitted she was “disappointed more people don’t seem to feel as strongly as we do about this and are not acting on it”. Watching the situation emerge in Gaza makes her feel “wholly inadequate”.

“I think my job is challenging and stressful working as a GP in Dublin – I have to advocate for my patients when there’s a long waiting list for hernia operation or if I have a patient who can’t afford a medication that’s not covered by the medical cards.

“And then I look at my colleagues in Gaza and think: that could be me, being faced with a woman in obstructed labour who needs an emergency C-section without anaesthetic. Either I do it when I don’t have the skills or competence to do it, or the woman and the baby die. That just strikes to the very core.” – additional reporting: the Guardian.

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Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times