The recent flare-up of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel along the Lebanese border is very worrying. It is the responsibility of all concerned to show restraint and de-escalate tensions when they arise, and to respect the sovereignty of their neighbours. I am relieved to see that the situation appears to have calmed in recent weeks.
Of course, both Lebanon and Syria remain officially in a state of war with Israel, with the most serious recent conflict taking place in 2006. While this situation persists, the risk of tensions leading to serious violence cannot be ruled out. Ireland believes that an end to conflict, and to the formal state of war, is very much in the best interests of the entire region. The presence of Irish troops deployed to UNIFIL along the border make this a matter of particular concern for Ireland.
I am aware of reports that Israel is responsible for recent attacks on Iranian targets in Iraq and along the Iraq-Syria border. Ireland does not have independent sources of information on this so I will not comment on the accuracy of these reports. I would not support or condone attacks of this nature, which risk further destabilising a region where hundreds of thousands have been killed in conflict, and where groups such as Islamic State remain ready to take advantage of the situation to pursue their horrifying activities.
Iran’s activities in the region, not least in Syria in support of the Assad regime, also constitute a major destabilising factor which merit strong condemnation. I have personally made clear these views to the Iranian Ambassador to Ireland.
I also repeat my call on all regional actors to show restraint and refrain from any escalatory actions, which could further undermine regional stability, as well as add to the suffering of civilians.