The immorality of Israel's targeting in Gaza

Richard Irvine, the son of a decorated RUC officer, points to his family's experience of the Northern conflict as proof of the immorality and cynicism of Israel's stance on the bombing of Gaza.

As a child I remember the shotgun in the hallway and the revolver by my parents’ bed. 

In the evenings only my father was allowed to answer the door, and the hall lay in a permanent dark while the porch was illuminated.  In the morning there would be checks under the car, my father bending down in all weathers to gaze for a device he was unlikely to recognise even if he did see it.

This for me was normal.   With the assuredness of childhood I was never scared.  Why would I be, I hadn't known a time when life had been otherwise. 

It is only now as a man older than my father was at that time that I realise both how brave my father was and how dangerous our situation was.


Of course, watching the news from Gaza this week I can see that some would have put a different interpretation on my father's actions.  As a participant in the Northern Ireland conflict - he was an RUC officer -  he was by default a combatant. 

While the Northern Ireland Troubles were appalling, had the participants adopted the immoral approach to human life Israel adopts today they would have been immeasurably worse.


Had my father been a participant in the conflict in Gaza rather than Ulster, then according to the Israeli discourse given credence today my home would have been classed as a command and control centre - he took telephone calls from his colleagues, and sometimes they even came round for drinks and I don't know what else.

Or possibly even a weapons storage facility- there were always two and sometimes three guns in the house.  Either way, with the obscene discourse that is currently in play, bombing it would have been entirely legitimate.

In fact more than legitimate, the destruction of our civilian home and perhaps the killing of me and the rest of my family would have been a reason for the bombers to feel moral outrage and beat their chests at the cruel cynicism of a father who would use his own family as human shields. 


I never looked at it this way before.   I never had to.  Those who take part in conflict, no matter the side, by their participation endanger those around them.

It does however, take a specially cynical mind to try and pass off the slaughter of civilian relatives as proof of their own moral superiority. 

No, my father wasn't hiding behind me and the rest of my family, he was participating in a conflict at great risk to himself and us because he believed that it was the right thing to do - for himself and for us.

So, please can we stop hearing from Israeli spokespeople how when they bomb a home and wipe out a family it proves the moral difference between them and Hamas.

It doesn't. It merely proves how cruelly cynical they are.

Richard Irvine is the son of George Alfred Irvine, who served in the RUC from 1960 to 1988.  His father was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal in 1975 for his role in bringing about the surrender of a UVF gang.


March is the perfect time to take action when it comes to your lawn, writes Peter DowdallGrassroots campaign: Take action in your lawn

Robin Maharaj, director at Kilkenny Architectural Salvage and AntiquesRobin Maharaj: ‘If you take a longterm view you won’t go wrong’

Fond recollections of a legend, an industry titan comes to Cork, Grimes' new album impresses critics, and Cork French Film Festival announces its lineup, writes Des O'DriscollScene and Heard: ‘Fail we may, sail we must’

Irish Examiner arts editor Des O'Driscoll picks his top gigs from the weekend's event, at venues around Cork City.Right Here, Right Now: this weekend's highlights

More From The Irish Examiner