Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Jim Walsh has called for Ireland to lead the way and impose sanctions on Israel in light of the ongoing violence in the Middle East. During a speech in the Seanad yesterday, the Wexford Senator criticised the international response to the crisis in Israel and Gaza.
Senator Walsh commented, “Ireland’s voice on this issue needs to be unambiguous. The constant shelling, rocket fire and airstrikes, and the indiscriminate killing of innocent citizens and children has appalled people in Ireland. The catastrophic loss of life, particularly in Gaza, has to be condemned in the strongest possible terms and efforts to sustain a lasting ceasefire must be intensified.
“The Israeli bombing of Gaza and the slaughter of children and innocent civilians in playgrounds, on the beaches, in their homes, in schools and in hospitals is deplorable. It is a stain on the Israeli state. There is no justification for it and there are no excuses. Gaza is an area 10 km by 40 km approximately. With 1.8 million people living there, there is no way that indiscriminate bombing can do other than achieve the murder and the slaughter of innocent civilians.
“Despite the implementation of a humanitarian truce, which was brokered by the UN and US, there are reports this afternoon that it has already been broken, with claims that Israeli tank fire has resulted in the deaths of four people. This should not be tolerated. The international community must demand a comprehensive ceasefire that puts a plan of action into place which would see the decommissioning of Hamas and other militant groups. Both sides must be held accountable under international law for war crimes.
“Ireland has to play its part in leading a campaign to secure worldwide imposition of sanctions, including arms, against Israel until such time as Israel withdraws to pre-1967 borders. Sanctions should be incremental, planned and identified. Effective measures must be implemented to safeguard Israeli territory based on those pre-1967 boundaries, and there should be an immediate lifting of the blockade of Gaza.
“The situation in the region has been allowed to escalate without a real concerted effort from the international community to end the violence. Ireland has been complicit in this; with the Government deciding to abstain from a UN vote establish a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and condemning Israel for potential violations of international law. This decision was wrong and not reflective of the mood among the vast number of Irish people.
“People in Gaza are being forced to endure untold horror and violence. Aid agencies on the ground are struggling to cope. I am calling for international aid to be mobilised without delay, and for Ireland to play its part to help the beleaguered Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank”.