Irish journalist attempts citizens arrest of EU's Von der Leyen over complicity in Gaza war

Irish journalist attempts citizens arrest of EU's Von der Leyen over complicity in Gaza war
Cronin accused Ursula von der Leyen of aiding Israel's war on Gaza by failing to uphold the Genocide Convention which the European Union is party to
2 min read
18 April, 2024
Ursula von der Leyen has given Israel the EU's full support in its war in Gaza, which has killed over 33,000 people [GETTY]

An Irish journalist was removed from a high-profile meeting in Brussels on Wednesday after he had attempted to arrest European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over complicity in the war on Gaza.

David Cronin, an associate editor of the online news outlet The Electronic Intifada, said von der Leyen was guilty of "aiding genocide in Gaza" as head of the European Commission, which has failed to condemn Israel's brutal siege on the Palestinian enclave.

Cronin stood up from the audience as von der Leyen began her address at the European Defence and Security Summit in Brussels and told the president that the blood of Palestinian children was on her hands.

"Ms. von der Leyen, this is a citizen's arrest. You stand accused of aiding genocide in Gaza. You have expressed full support to Israel at the onset of this genocide. The blood of Palestinian children is on your hands," Cronin said.

As he was removed from the room by security, Cronin called von der Leyen a criminal, said she should not run for re-election and shouted 'Free Palestine!'.

The president remained on stage with a smirk on her face and then continued her opening remarks.

Israel is currently challenging a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) brought by South Africa, which accuses Israel of breaching its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

The ICJ interim ruling in January ordered Israel to do everything in its power to ensure its military does not commit acts of genocide and guarantee the safety of civilians in Gaza. It has since been accused of ignoring the ruling.

Writing in the Electronic Intifada on Wednesday, Cronin, a prominent voice on the Israel-Palestine issue, explained his stunt.

He said that all European Union members have ratified commitments to the 1948 Genocide Convention and that von der Leyen's unwavering support of Israel throughout the war has "reneged on that commitment".

Cronin also suggests that the EU's close trading ties with Israel have influenced the body’s position. "Brussels bureaucracy is striving to maintain extremely close economic ties with Israel,"  he wrote.

The EU's trade deals with Israel are worth billions of euros and the bloc represents Tel Aviv's biggest trading partner. Nearly 32 percent of Israel's imports came from the EU in 2022, according to EU trade figures.

Last month, a number of prominent human rights groups called on the United States and the EU to cease trading with Israel over reports of numerous violations being committed by its troops in Gaza.