I am sharing time with Deputy Carroll MacNeill.
We are here this afternoon to address the current cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the latest in a long, brutal and inhumane conflict that has taken an unspeakable human toll. This week, I have spoken about the situation in the Seanad, at the UN Security Council and in a meeting of EU foreign ministers. I repeat here my calls for an immediate cessation of violence. Indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza must stop. Israeli air strikes must stop. Over 120 civilians in the Gaza Strip have been killed in the last ten days, 63 of them children. Among the 12 civilians killed in Israel, two were children. This is shameful and will reinforce and embed hatred, grief and a continuance of what drives this conflict into the future. Today, as we debate in this Chamber, 57,000 people have been displaced by hostilities in Gaza and are now taking refuge in almost 60 schools, many of them UN facilities, in an effort to find safe refuge for themselves, their families and their children. The protection of civilians must be paramount. The impact on civilians, particularly children, has been simply unacceptable and the international community must call it out.
Yesterday, I spoke to the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr. Shtayyeh, and expressed Ireland's condolences on the deaths and violence of the past week. Ireland has been urging the UN Security Council to use its voice. The council has met four times since the outbreak of hostilities. I must be honest that I find it difficult to comprehend how the UN Security Council has not yet been able to agree a clear joint statement on this issue. The global structure for preventing conflict and bringing conflict to an end has been unable until now to call for a ceasefire on a conflict as significant as this one. I addressed the UN Security Council on Sunday and underlined that we need to send a clear and united message that the council and its members have a responsibility to speak. Ireland is working closely with France on intensive negotiations in New York today to agree a Security Council resolution. I will be meeting later this afternoon in Dublin with my French counterpart on this issue. I sincerely hope that all council members will come to the table constructively to try and reach agreement. The UN Security Council must speak on this issue.
The President of the UN General Assembly has also convened the General Assembly today. This reflects the widespread concern among UN member states. The conflict is of particular concern to neighbouring states, many of which have been at the forefront of efforts to try to secure a ceasefire in recent days. I have been in close contact with my counterparts in the region, be it in Egypt, Qatar or Jordan. I have urged all states to use their influence with parties to support efforts to end hostilities. Yesterday, I met the Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr. Zarif. I made the point clearly to him that Iran has a responsibility to use its influence in the Gaza Strip to insist on a ceasefire and an ending of violence and the firing of rockets. EU foreign ministers met virtually on Tuesday in an emergency setting. I called for a clear EU message in support of an immediate ceasefire and for humanitarian access to Gaza. I welcome the clear call from the High Representative, Mr. Josep Borrell, for a cessation of violence, for the implementation of a ceasefire in order to protect civilians and for full humanitarian access to be given to those most in need in Gaza.
Beyond securing a ceasefire and humanitarian access, we must also address the root causes of this ongoing cycle of violence. I was clear about this at the Foreign Affairs Council on Tuesday. The EU has a responsibility to step up. This is in our neighbourhood and we must be a much more influential actor than we are currently. As I said, this afternoon I will meet my French counterpart, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian. We will discuss how we can work together at both EU and UN Security Council levels to support all efforts to de-escalate and, looking ahead, how we can reinvigorate the international community's commitment to the Middle East peace process and restart badly needed negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on the basis of equality of esteem, which we have not seen for a number of years.
The loss of life, destruction and trauma we have seen in the last week across Israel and Palestine have been horrifying, but must be a wake-up call for the international community in terms of its responsibilities. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Gaza Strip, where 2 million people were already living in acute humanitarian need and suffering the consequences of repeated cycles of violence and long-running blockades. That is why I have announced an immediate response of €1.5 million in emergency supports for the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip. Irish Aid will support the UN in delivering emergency humanitarian supplies to those who most need them. Some €1 million will be provided to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, which provides services to Palestinian refugees, for emergency food, water and sanitation supplies and health and psychosocial services for 50,000 people sheltered in UNRWA-run schools. The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, UNICEF, will also receive €500,000 for child protection and medical and sanitation services for thousands of children in acute need. This includes emergency psychosocial services to 5,000 children suffering trauma as a result of hostilities. We will respond further to the humanitarian situation in the weeks ahead. This money is additional to the money we already provide to organisations such as UNRWA and other UN actors.
While much of the focus today is rightly on the violence and tension in Gaza, the West Bank and across Israel, we cannot and must not shy away from the enabling factors in this recent tragic cycle of violence. I have to say that they are primarily Israel's continued strategy of expanding settlements and the discriminatory practices by Israeli authorities against Palestinians, with forced relocation, demolition of properties, forced evictions and continuing to expand settlements that are not legal in the first place. Once the immediate hostilities have ended, we cannot go back to the status quo of a few weeks ago. I remain supportive of a two-state solution, but it cannot be delivered if Israel’s actions on settlements, demolition and evictions continue unabated. Brutality and dispossession will not lead to a peaceful, secure outcome for anyone, either for Palestinians in a future state of their own or for Israelis who want to live in peace with their neighbours as well.
Ireland will continue to use its voice at the Security Council to draw attention to these issues. We will speak up even if it is not comfortable to do so. We will continue, along with our EU partners, to engage in renewed and reinvigorated international and regional efforts, which are more necessary now than they have been for many years.