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Israeli embassy aide sacked for criticising Gaza air strike

By Ed O'Loughlin in Dublin
The Independent
July 27, 2002


Israel's embassy in Dublin said yesterday it is sacking a press officer who wrote a letter to Irish newspapers condemning the Israeli air force bombing of the Gaza strip this week.

In a letter published in yesterday's Irish Times Dr Noreen O'Carroll, an Irish citizen employed by the embassy, wrote that "I am sick at heart at this, as I am at each and every attack on Israeli citizens".

Fifteen Palestinians were killed and hundreds more injured when an Israeli F-16 fighter bomber dropped a one-ton bomb to assassinate the military chief of the extremist Hamas militia and his bodyguard.

Dr O'Carroll's letter said "a missile attack on an apartment building, after midnight when children and adults are asleep in their beds, is no more justifiable than a suicide bombing. I am appalled and ashamed of the current Israeli government for sanctioning this and other similar operations."

She added: "I am also appalled and ashamed of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cold-hearted response to it, stating that it was 'one of our greatest successes'. Has he any heart, any moral sense at all?"

The letter concluded that "there is a huge divergence of opinion within both the political establishment and civil society in Israel about the policies of the current Israeli government. I want to put it on record that such divergence of opinion also extends to the 'local staff' of Israeli embassies."

In another version of the letter published in the rival Irish Examiner Dr O'Carroll quoted the Jewish-Italian writer and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, who wrote that in such matters "silence is complicity".

The letters were signed by Dr O'Carroll in her capacity as "press officer, Embassy of Israel, Dublin". Yesterday, the chargé d'affaires in the Dublin embassy, Boaz Rodkin, said that Dr O'Carroll had been suspended and further action would follow after consultations with the Israeli foreign ministry – "at the end of the day she will not be able to come back to work", he said.

Mr Rodkin added: "Nobody in their right mind expects an organisation to keep a press officer who speaks against it. It's extraordinary what she did."