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Transport Minister Eamon Ryan in Kildare speaking about Gaza today. Alamy Stock Photo

Eamon Ryan says there are 'irrefutable' points in South Africa's genocide case against Israel

Over the weekend the Taoiseach urged caution when it comes to labelling Israel’s campaign a ‘genocide’.

TRANSPORT MINISTER Eamon Ryan has said that there are “irrefutable” points in the genocide case South Africa has taken against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

The Green Party leader noted that the World Health Organisation has said Gaza is facing “catastrophic levels of food insecurity” with the risk of famine increasing each day. 

Ryan, who was speaking from Kildare today, said that Irish people have stood up for the rights of Palestinians over the years. 

“Now, more than ever, we stand up for their rights – for self determination but also for an immediate end to the actions the Israeli government and military are taking which are putting those Palestinian people in Gaza at risk of immediate starvation,”he said. 

Speaking of South Africa’s ICJ case, Ryan said “The court case is one of standing effectively first between South Africa and Israel, and there are only two parties to that. But in terms of where we stand, in my mind, it has to be for the basic human rights of the Palestinian people which are being wholesale infringed, in my mind, at the present time,”. 

Ryan added that the world will “sit in real harsh judgement” is Israel’s Government does not desis its campaign”. 

He clarified that this “does not in anyway undermine the rights of Israelis to safety”. 

“I deplore what happened on 7 October but the scale of what Israel is doing and the risk to the Palestinian people absolutely has to stop,” Ryan further commented.

His comments come after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there is no intention within Government for Ireland to join South Africa in its case, and further warned that there is a need to be “careful” about categorising Israel’s actions as a “genocide”. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One over the weekend, Varadkar said he would feel “uncomfortable” accusing Israel of genocide, given the fact that “six million Jews, over half the population of Jews in Europe, were killed”. 

Varadkar also pointed to the actions of Hamas on Oct 7, when it killed approximately 1,200 Israelis in a series of co-ordinated, unforseen attacks. 

“Hamas went into Israel, killed 1400 people… essentially because they were Israelis because they were Jews, because they lived in Israel. Was that not also genocide?” Varadkar asked. 

The Taoiseach said that actions perpetrated by both sides of the conflict have been “appalling”and that war crimes have “very possibly” been committed by both sides. 

 Under the Genocide Convention, genocide is defined as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

This includes killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

In the months since the Israeli bombardment of Gaza first began, there have been mounting calls for the campaign to be categorised as a genocide.

A group of UN experts warned of the possibility back in mid-November.

Israeli Holocaust and genocide historian Raz Segal has also made that assessment, pointing to the “annihilatory language” of top Israeli officials.

Craig Mokhiber, a director at the United Nations, resigned in late October saying: “Once again we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes and the organization we serve appears powerless to stop it.”

Varadkar has repeatedly said that he does not think the situation would be improved by Ireland joining South Africa’s case against Israel in the ICJ, as other countries such as Turkey, Malaysia and Jordan have done. 

The Taoiseach has repeatedly expressed his desire to see an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 

- Additional reporting from the Press Association. 

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