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Tánaiste Micheál Martin Alamy Stock Photo

Tánaiste blames Israeli occupation for humanitarian crisis in Gaza as EU commits to funding UNRWA

Martin is not alone in blaming Israel for the widespread hunger in Gaza.


TÁNISTE MICHEÁL MARTIN has described the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as “man made and completely unacceptable”, in reference to the conduct of the Israeli military since October.  

His comments come a day after more than 100 people were killed after Israeli forces opened fire as a crowd of desperate people attempted to get their hands on food being delivered by an aid convoy. 

Israeli officials have denied shooting at civilians but witness accounts have contradicted those statements. Videos have also shown people running for cover as gunfire rings out.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) today, Martin said he was “appalled by the horrible deaths of Palestinians queueing for aid in Gaza city. International humanitarian law is unambiguous – Israel as occupying power must protect civilians & ensure basic services”.

Martin is not alone in blaming Israel for the widespread hunger that, as reported by The Journal, has led people to eat animal feed

That report from a local Palestinian journalist showed how in the northern part of the territory people had run out of basic foods like flour, bread and canned goods. 

“We used the livestock fodder and turned it to wheat to process bread. But even the livestock fodder isn’t available anymore,” said one of the people interviewed. 

As early as December, Human Rights Watch was accusing Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war. 

“If nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza,” the World Food Programme’s deputy executive director Carl Skau warned on Tuesday. 

Yesterday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said they were “horrified by the latest news from Gaza City”, adding that responsibility lied with Israel for the  

The medical NGO also said: “We consider Israel responsible for the situation of extreme deprivation and despair which prevails in Gaza, particularly in the north, which led to today’s tragic events.” 

“This situation is the direct result of the string of unconscionable decisions taken by Israeli authorities while waging this war,” the statement said.

The north of the Gaza Strip has been largely cut off from assistance for months, MSF said, “leaving people trapped and with no choice but to attempt to survive on miniscule amounts of food, water and medical supplies”. 

Since beginning its siege of the already blockaded Gaza Strip in October, Israel has been repeatedly criticised for not allowing vital aid into the territory, as it was ordered to do by the International Court of Justice a month ago as part of South Africa’s genocide case against it. 

EU funding UNRWA 

Meanwhile, the European Union has committed to continue funding the UN’s Relief and Works Agency, Gaza’s main humanitarian aid lifeline.

The agency has had funding withdrawn by many countries since Israel alleged, without evidence, that many of its members were part of Hamas and that 12 of its members had taken part in the attacks of 7 October. 

The United States was the first to pull funding and many of its allies followed soon. 

Ireland was one of the few UNRWA donors in Europe or the West that did not suspend its funding.

EU Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said the EU “will proceed to paying 50 million euros to UNRWA and increase emergency support to the Palestinians by 68 million euros in 2024″.

The EU had said it was reviewing but not suspending its funding to UNRWA in light of the Israeli allegations.

Mamer told reporters UNRWA had agreed to a “series of conditions” including an EU-led audit, and that the next tranche of funds would be released “early next week,” with a further 32 million euros to follow later.

The extra 68 million euros in humanitarian aid would go through various organisations like the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, Mamer said.

The Tánaiste welcomed the news of EU funding for UNRWA in a statement this afternoon and called for others to do so as well. 

Given the current situation he said “the role and mandate of UNRWA is more important than ever. It is the backbone of the humanitarian response in Gaza.

“It is clear that UNRWA is the one organisation that has the bandwidth and capacity to provide services and distribute aid comprehensively across Gaza and the wider region.

“That is why, in recent weeks, I have consistently advocated for all partners to immediately disburse funding to UNRWA.

The international community needs to step up now to support UNRWA, so it can fulfil its vital and life-saving mandate.

With reporting from AFP