I am deeply concerned by the escalation of violence in Jerusalem in recent days, the launching of rockets from Gaza and the actions of the Israeli defence forces. Many were shocked at reports of 24 Palestinians being killed last night, including nine children. I believe those figures are now higher. The latest figures, which I received a number of hours ago, were that 28 people were killed, ten of whom were children. I also mention the launching of a rocket from Gaza at a school in southern Israel this morning, and at a residential area this afternoon in which two Israelis were killed. I also understand that in the past hour, quite a number of other Israelis, including possibly a child, have been killed from rocket fire.
I met the Israeli ambassador this afternoon to convey Ireland's position on this and recent tensions and violence. I underlined the need for the Israeli authorities to behave responsibly and protect all civilians in line with their obligations under international law.
Provocations and clashes in East Jerusalem, which led to many being injured at the holy site of Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, are deeply worrying. In my view, the approach of the Israeli authorities and security forces was not acceptable in that context.
On the question of Sheikh Jarrah, I am aware of the long-standing threat of eviction faced by Palestinian residents in this neighbourhood. I have urged Israel to cease evictions and demolitions. Yesterday at the EU Foreign Affairs Council, I highlighted the issues surrounding illegal settlements, including evictions and seizures of property, which are a major driver of genuine conflict and an obstacle to peace. This morning, Ireland's representative office in Ramallah visited the site along with other diplomatic representatives. Irish officials continue to closely monitor the situation with concern.