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Herzog criticised the Taoiseach and Tánaiste for not supporting Israel publically. Alamy Stock Photo
Israel

Israeli President says Ireland needs to 'admit the truth' about conflict in Gaza

Isaac Herzog asked: “What did we do wrong?”

THE ISRAELI PRESIDENT has questioned why he says the Irish government has not recognised the “tragedy Israel has seen”, asking: “What is the problem with admitting the truth?”

In an interview on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, Isaac Herzog – whose father was Irish – justified his country’s government’s reaction to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s tweet and subsequent statement by saying it “hardly mentions” Israel and Hamas.

He added that while he has a lot of respect for Ireland and is proud for his family lineage to have hailed from the country, he questioned why the government could not be more specific in its statement.

Herzog said: ”How can it be that the Irish government cannot say, ‘Emily [Hand] – little Emily – she returned from being a hostage by Hamas, abducted from her home in Be’eri, Kibbutz  Be’eri,’ What’s wrong with that?”

In a statement after the release of Emily Hand, Varadkar said: “A little girl was snatched from her home and held captive for almost seven weeks. She spent her ninth birthday as a hostage. We hope she will soon heal and recover from the traumatic experience in the loving embrace of her family.”

The taoiseach also called for all hostages to be released, and for a ceasefire to be placed in the region, a call he reiterated when responding to criticism to his original statement.

Herzog continued: “What’s the problem in just admitting the truth? And saying ‘We are really sorry for the tragedy Israel has seen and has befallen the people of Israel and Emily herself’.”

Members of government and opposition highlighted such Israeli struggles in statements after the announcement of Emily Hand.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said: “I am conscious today that many more hostages remain in the hands of Hamas. I reiterate my call that all hostages in Gaza should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Elsewhere in his statement Martin mentions the “weeks of trauma” Israeli hostages suffered from Hamas.

In a separate statement, Sinn Féin TD and leader of the opposition Mary Lou McDonald thanked all the mediators between Israel and Hamas who led the negotiations to free the hostages from Gaza and prisoners from Israel.

“The trauma and heartbreak that little Emily and her family have been subjected to over the last number of weeks is unimaginable,” she said.

On Saturday, Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen accused Varadkar of trying to legitimise and normalise terror and told him to check his moral compass.

Although Herzog could not speak for the country’s foreign minister he did ask to be told why Ireland isn’t staunchly pro-Israel.

“One has to understand the feeling that we’re feeling from out here. We’re looking at the picture and looking at Ireland, which is a very respected country and a great nation, and asking ourselves: ‘What did we do wrong that Ireland is so indifferent?’.”

Asked if Herzog truly believed his statement he argued “how could it not be” as he believes neither the Taoiseach or the Tánaiste express their support for Israel “outright”.