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Middle East Issues

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 20 November 2018

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Ceisteanna (117, 123)

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

117. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will condemn Israel’s unilateral violation of the ceasefire in Gaza by its military forces which has resulted in deaths on both sides; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Gaza remains under an illegal Israeli blockade and that Israel continues to carry out human rights abuses against its inhabitants; and the steps he is taking to ensure a ceasefire in Gaza and that the illegal blockade is lifted. [48132/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

123. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the recent raid by Israeli covert special forces which resulted in the killing of seven Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the destruction of a six storey residential building which housed a kindergarten; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48012/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 123 together.

The recent large-scale outbreak of attacks in both directions across the Gaza border was reportedly preceded by an incursion of a covert Israeli unit deep into Gaza on 11 November, and subsequent fighting when its presence was detected. I do not know what the intended purpose of this incursion was, but the effect seems to have been tragically counterproductive, at a time when a temporary ceasefire was in operation, and a long term truce in relation to Gaza seemed to have been in prospect.

However, this provides no justification whatsoever for the very large-scale firing of rockets into Israel in retaliation. There appear to have been several hundred such rockets in a single day, and this could easily have resulted in much higher civilian casualties. Israeli forces, as is always the case, responded by attacking targets in Gaza they associate with Hamas.

A reported eight people have been killed by hundreds of aerial attacks in each direction. In addition, very large numbers of civilians on both sides, including young children, spent many hours sheltering from such attacks, which must have been a traumatic experience.

In view of the potential for further escalation, it is very welcome that an effective ceasefire was quickly re-established, and I commend all who were instrumental in achieving that, notably Egypt. I hope that this will allow progress towards a more durable truce to resume.

More importantly than what triggered this episode, these events strongly reinforce what I have stressed in all my discussions on Gaza, both in the region and at EU and international level. So long as the situation in Gaza is allowed to fester, these outbreaks of violence, each one threatening to be bigger and more destructive than the last, will only recur. The blockade is inhumane, and should be ended. All parties need to consider and attempt ways to change the dynamic and break this cycle. Such possibilities have been a major feature of my own discussions on Gaza, and Ireland is advancing specific projects on educational scholarships and power infrastructure to contribute to this effort.

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