By David Gibney

At least 560 Palestinians and 900 Israelis have been killed since Hamas attacked Israel on Saturday morning. A horrifying death toll, and one that is sure to rise over the coming days. The logical call from those who say they want to protect lives – Israeli and Palestinian alike – is simple: end the siege of Gaza and end the illegal occupation of Palestine.

Earlier a deeply disturbing video of a Palestinian father embracing the lifeless body of his dead infant in a hospital ward was posted on Instagram. This baby, only months old, who hasn’t yet learned to walk or talk, and now never will, has been held responsible by Israel for the attacks led by Hamas on Saturday.

It doesn’t matter that the murder of the baby was a war crime; the EU and the US have already absolved Israel of any responsibility for the butchery and brutality they are unleashing on the Palestinian people right now.

US President Joe Biden reacted to Saturdays attacks by stating: “the United States stands with Israel. We will not ever fail to have their back. We’ll make sure that they have the help their citizens need and they can continue to defend themselves.”

This effectively gives Israel carte blanch to annihilate the terrified and trapped people of Palestine. Again.

Biden added: “this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage. The world is watching.”

It’s notable that he didn’t warn Israel not to impose collective punishment on the Palestinian people for the actions of Hamas, which is a war crime.

President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “Today, Hamas terrorists have struck at the heart of Israel capturing and killing innocent women and children. Israel has the right to defend itself – today and in the days to come. The European Union stands with Israel.”

Irish MEP Clare Daly put her firmly in her place.

Both Biden and von der Leyen are smart people. Or they have smart people advising them. They know the end result of this process. More deaths, more carnage, and more recruitment for the organisation they say they want to “end”, Hamas. After decades of this cycle of violence, you’d think people would have learned, unless the total eradication of the Palestinian people is the end result being sought, and Hamas are a useful tool upon which to hang that blame.

Haaretz, Israel’s main newspaper, is placing the blame firmly on Netanyahu for these attacks:

“The disaster that befell Israel on the holiday of Simchat Torah is the clear responsibility of one person: Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister, who has prided himself on his vast political experience and irreplaceable wisdom in security matters, completely failed to identify the dangers he was consciously leading Israel into when establishing a government of annexation and dispossession, when appointing Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir to key positions, while embracing a foreign policy that openly ignored the existence and rights of Palestinians.”

This is the crux of it. The Israelis who were killed over the weekend are collateral damage for the Israeli government – and as expected, they have seized on this opportunity to continue their policy of genocide in Palestine.

Clare Daly also explained on Newstalk earlier today that Hamas was supported financially and logistically by the Israeli government to undermine the more left-wing Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

When you deny people freedom, and you deny them their fundamental human rights, when you attack and murder their families with impunity, when you destroy any hope for a future that they may have, when you humiliate them on a daily basis, when you use their water towers for target practice, when you deny them essential medical care, when you beat and kick them in their place of worship, those people are going to fight back. Even now Israel is determined to exacerbate the crisis by cutting off access to food, fuel, electricity and water while indiscriminately bombing Gaza.

On social media, and in the mainstream media too, we have moral guardians insisting that if you condemn Palestinian deaths, then you must also condemn the war crimes of Hamas. Harry McGee in today’s Irish Times has a forensic analysis of who in Sinn Fein has condemned Hamas and who has not. There is no forensic analysis of who from the Government parties of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or the Green Party has condemned the Israeli murders of innocent civilians and the bombardment of Gaza. And there won’t be one. Because Palestinian lives are not equal to Israeli lives, whether western media outlets admit their subconscious(?) bias or not.

The insistence that we all condemn these attacks by Hamas ignores the context of what has happened in Palestine since 1948. The people of Palestine played no part in their own oppression, and it is that very oppression which created Hamas and the attacks over recent days.

The hypocrisy of the EU, US and other western nations in relation to the occupation of Palestine in comparison to the occupation of Ukraine by Russia has also been laid bare.

The notion that Israel has the right to defend itself, as do Ukrainians, but Palestinians don’t exposes the hypocrisy of the West. What is it that Ukrainians and Israelis have that differentiates them from Palestinians, I wonder?

I vehemently condemn the policies and actions that have led us to this moment and the senseless loss of life for so many. We must understand the context of what led us here or the cycle of death and destruction will continue.

Israel says it will “end Hamas”. But they know it doesn’t really matter if this is the end of Hamas. Another Hamas will arise as long as the conditions that created them remain. There is a path to peace. Free Palestine and end the occupation. Let’s hope it is pursued.