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Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich. Embassy of Israel in Dublin
Dana Erlic

Israeli ambassador says it's a 'shame' some Irish politicians have Palestine flags on social media

‘I think it’s a shame that they don’t comment and they’re very silent whenever an Israeli has been killed,’ said Dana Erlich.

ISRAEL’S AMBASSADOR TO Ireland has said it is a “shame” that some Irish politicians have posted images of Palestinian flags on their social media accounts.

There is still some fighting under way more than 24 hours after an unprecedented surprise attack from Gaza, in which Hamas militants, backed by a volley of thousands of rockets, broke through Israel’s security barrier and rampaged through nearby communities.

Israel says more than 600 people have died and a further 100 are being held prisoners, while Gaza says the death toll on its side stands at 370.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This week, Israeli ambassador Dana Erlich was asked about Irish politicians who have images of Palestinian flags on their social media feeds.

Elrich responded: “As people who claim to be defending human rights, I think it’s a shame that they don’t comment and they’re very silent whenever an Israeli has been killed.

“I don’t know how you can keep silent again after all of these barbaric images that we’ve seen yesterday, after elderly women being dragged in the streets, bodies of young children, women, mothers, grandmothers, killed in the streets.

“If you can be silent to that, then I don’t know how you can be supportive of human rights.”

Some video footage of the violence that erupted yesterday appears to show Hamas fighters parading a disoriented-looking elderly woman in a golf buggy down a dusty Gaza street while Palestinian crowds cheered.

There has been no official confirmation of the number of deaths on the Israeli side since the fighting erupted early yesterday, but Elrich said she believes this figure “might have risen to around 400 or even more”.

She added that there is no confirmation on how many Israelis are currently being held hostage.

“At the beginning we thought it was dozens, we’re not sure about the final numbers,” said Elrich.

“A lot of the people are still missing, we see their families calling out for them, so we don’t have the exact numbers, we just see the horrified families reporting.”

Elrich said the fighting is “still continuing in the south of Israel” and that “this is nothing like we’ve ever seen before”.

The high death toll and multiple captives appears to point to a major intelligence failure within Israel and undermined the long-held perception that Israel has eyes and ears everywhere in the region.

When asked about a perceived intelligence failure, Elrich said: “It’s something that obviously we’re all asking and there will be investigations.

“Right now, what we are focusing on is what are we doing to defend our people?

“For me, as Ambassador of Israel here in Ireland, is how do I get the international support and Irish support that we need? And we want to thank Ireland for its condemnation.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin have both condemned the unprecedented attack, stating that the violence needed to stop and a peace process needed to take place.

Martin said yesterday that he could “see tensions rising” during a trip to the region last month, and the scale of Saturday’s attack by Hamas was “quite shocking” and launched “without justification”.

He said it was “clearly a breach of international law”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a “long and difficult” war ahead after Palestinian militants launched a massive surprise attack.

“We are embarking on a long and difficult war that was forced on us by a murderous Hamas attack,” Netanyahu wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

When asked about Netanyahu’s response, Elrich said: “This is nothing that we’ve seen in the past 50 years in Israel’s existence, and unfortunately, we all know that we’re headed for a rough time, but we are resilient and we will prevail.”

Elrich added that the Israeli government “always take consideration of the local population” when deciding to carry out an air strike, and that “we always make the most in order not to hurt local civilians”.

“The local Palestinian community, we’re going above and beyond in order not to hurt them. So that is the main difference. We will do anything in our power not to hurt civilians.”

Elrich also stated: “We did not declare war on the Palestinians in Gaza. We declared war on Hamas.

“I want to emphasise that because our hearts go to the people in Gaza, they are hostages and they’re suffering from Hamas as well as we do.”

Netanyahu also warned people living in Gaza to leave as he vowed to turn parts of the territory “into ruins”.

When Elrich was asked where is open for Gazans to seek refuge, she said: “I think all of us should point the finger at Hamas, because that is the leadership that is taking care of those people.

“That is the leadership that chooses to hide in mosques, in hospitals, in bomb shelters, that decides to put infrastructure in rockets instead of electricity, instead of education.

“So that’s where we should be asking all of these questions.”

-With additional reporting from Press Association