Friday, 28 August 2009

Irish Catholic anti-Israel NGO to curtail West Bank activities

"Palestinians living in Gaza are being treated worse then animals in a zoo. Ireland must do everything we can to end Israel’s collective punishment of civilians, which is a flagrant breach of international law." (Justin Kilcullen, director of Trócaire - Trócaire press release, 25/01/2008)

DUBLIN, Ireland (JTA) – A major Irish NGO that trains activists to oppose Jewish settlements is cutting back on its West Bank activity due to budget cuts.

Trócaire, a Catholic aid agency that is one of Ireland’s largest and most influential NGOs, announced it will reduce its presence in the West Bank following massive cuts in the Irish government’s overseas aid budget and a substantial drop-off in private donations. The group has been active in Gaza and the West Bank since 2002.

In Ireland, the group has used its public profile to campaign against the West Bank security fence, Jewish housing in the West Bank and in eastern Jerusalem, and Israeli military action against Hamas in Gaza. Earlier this year, Trocaire called for the suspension of EU-Israel Association Agreement.

In a report issued in March, the Israel-based watchdog NGO Monitor accused the group of helping to "fuel the conflict" through "one-sided activities." [Trócaire: Misdirected Catholic Aid from Ireland Fuels Conflict]

According to its most recent public accounts, the organization spends approximately $1.07 million per year on its Palestinian-related activities.

The Irish government cut its support of Trócaire by 22 percent. Private donations are down 10 percent, the group said.

Justin Kilcullen, Director of Trócaire, the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, AND head of CONCORD, the Brussels-based powerful European confederation of 1,600 NGOs across 21 countries for relief and development (the European Union generously provides funds to Trócaire and CONCORD) wrote:

"Gaza strip: An open air prison?"

"Last December I turned up at a border crossing leading from Israel to the infamous Gaza strip as part of a delegation of Catholic development agencies. I was looking forward to the visit, to seeing first-hand the situation in which thousands of Palestinians were living. But four hours later I walked away, together with half the group, refused entry by Israeli security because our papers for entry did not have the required approvals. While the Palestinians living within this small piece of land could not get out, I could not get in. (…)

Over 3,000 journalists are expected to descend on the Gaza strip in the coming days to watch the dismantling of the 17 settlements that have been occupied by roughly 8,000 Israeli settlers since the war in 1967."

From: Over 3000 journalists in Gaza: one Western journalist in Lhasa

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