US Diplomats Flying to and from Israel through Shannon
On 23rd August we spotted that Mike Pompeo, who was described by the Washington Post a few days ago as the worst US secretary of state in history, stopped at Shannon on his way to Israel. He was going there to discuss the "normalisation deal" agreed with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earler in the month. As our friends in the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign said, this deal was an abandonment of Palestinian rights, intended merely to give diplomatic cover to Israel’s ongoing violations of those rights.
Pompeo was on US Air Force Boeing C-40B 01-0015.
On Sunday 30th August another Boeing C-40B, this time with registration 02-0042, landed at Shannon from Joint Base Andrews in Washington. It went on to Israel, and on Monday it left Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, flew to Al Bateen Executive Airport in the UAE, and flew back to Shannon (arriving Tuesday 1st September). It left Shannon at 6.12pm on its was back to Joint Base Andrews.
Like the Pompeo flight it carried a Special Air Mission (SAM) call sign. This is used for flights carrying the President, Vice President, Cabinet, members of Congress, and other high-ranking American and foreign dignitaries.
We object to these diplomatic flights being allowed to use Shannon. Israel consistently violates international law and has repeatedly committed war crimes against the Palestinian people. Mike Pompeo has given his support to Israel's illegal annexation of the West Bank. And while he was there, Israel imposed a ban on fishing off the Gaza coast and staged nightly air raids. The Palestinian territory has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, but with every day that goes by the situation gets more dire for the two million people living there. Right now, the Covid-19 situation in Gaza is becoming quite serious.
Ireland should be demanding an immediate lifting of the illegal blockade and the provision of urgent medical supplies for Gaza. Instead it is refuelling planes for the main sponsors of Israeli oppression and occupation, the US.
Meanwhile Shannon's future is becoming increasingly uncertain. There are reports that Aer Lingus may pull out of its base at Shannon Airport entirely. Delta has dropped its Shannon service until 2022 at least. And Ryanair is reported to be considering cutting more flights in Ireland if tough travel restrictions remain in place. Its little wonder therefore that in July a Clare councillor Ann Norton was reported as saying that the US military are keeping Shannon Airport open.
The troop carriers have been a regular feature of Shannon's business since 2002, and the current Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan seems to have little interest in ending that. Are we now seeing the addition of these diplomatic Special Air Missions in a desperate attempt to keep the airport open?
Lets hope that the plan is not to turn it into another Executive Airport for war criminals and dictatorial mouthpieces.