On 20 September Israeli forces prevented an emergency delivery of international humanitarian aid to the Palestinian community of Makhul, whose homes had been demolished by Israeli authorities. The delivery was organised by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and was accompanied as observers by diplomats from Ireland, France, Sweden, Spain, UK, Greece, Australia, Brazil and the EU Delegation. The aid itself, including tents for temporary shelter, was confiscated, leaving the members of the community to spend a further night on the hillside with no shelter for themselves or their animals. I would emphasise that both the destruction of their homes, and the subsequent impeding of humanitarian assistance, are breaches of international humanitarian law. Unfortunately, such illegal actions have been carried out repeatedly, in order to clear Palestinians off the land.
Ireland subscribes fully to the EU statement issued by High Representative Ashton and Commissioner Georgieva on 21 September in which the EU deplored the confiscation of humanitarian assistance intended for the citizens of Khirbet al-Makhul and underlined the importance of unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and the applicability of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory. The supply of humanitarian assistance to people who have been made homeless, and the presence of diplomats to observe that humanitarian action, cannot possibly be considered a provocation.
Ireland will continue to engage with our Israeli interlocutors at political and official level to support a more constructive and sensible approach, to encourage the many strands of Israeli opinion who also deplore such actions, and to build on those other areas where we enjoy good and productive relations.