Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Relations, Seán Sherlock T.D., today reiterated Ireland’s strong support for the Palestinian people, and especially the beleaguered civilian population of Gaza.
He emphasised the Government’s consistent position that all violence in Gaza and Israel must end immediately - both the firing of missiles into Israel by Hamas and the disproportionate response by Israel.
He also emphasised that the blockade on Gaza and its people must be lifted and that every effort be galvanised to ensure that, at last, a credible international process is established to deliver a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders.
“I share the outrage of the people of Ireland at the appalling suffering being visited on defenceless people in Gaza, and in southern Israel. The Government has consistently called for a total and immediate ceasefire, and Minister Flanagan has conveyed the Government's view on the disproportionate nature of the Israeli response in robust terms to the Israeli ambassador.
“The plight of the people of Gaza is now intolerable. They are largely a refugee population, victims of a conflict which has gone on for too many generations. They now find themselves trapped on their own land between the Israeli army and the forces of Hamas, suffering bombardment by high technology weapons."
While the Government continues to work with its EU counterparts to secure a ceasefire, Minister Sherlock said Ireland would continue to provide substantial humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority.
"While efforts to negotiate a ceasefire continue, Ireland is responding to the humanitarian crisis caused by the violence. I and Minister Flanagan approved €500,000 in response to the emergency appeal by the United National Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees, on 17 July. This brings to some €10 million the funding provided so far this year in Ireland’s sustained programme of strategic and humanitarian funding for Palestine. It includes vital funding for the education of Palestinian children and young people, and support for Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations.
“I pay particular tribute to the invaluable work of UNRWA in extraordinary circumstances. The Agency has been charged with responsibility internationally for Palestinian refugees and it is the lifeline for much of the population of Gaza.
“Ireland has provided over €43 million to the Agency since 2005, and we have consistently highlighted our support for its critical, impartial role. I would reiterate today the demand that its facilities be respected by all sides to the conflict, and that there be no repeat of the series of attacks which we have witnessed on their schools, where devastated people have sought refuge.
“Ireland will continue to stand by all the innocent victims of this conflict, and I will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation to ensure that we maximise the assistance we can provide to meet the emergency needs of the people suffering the consequences of the appalling violence of recent weeks.”