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Simon Harris Sam Boal/
leader questions

Simon Harris says Israel is now 'blinded by rage' and engaging in a 'war on children' in Gaza

He said peace cannot be built on “the mass graves of children”.

LAST UPDATE | 14 Nov 2023

ISRAEL HAS BEEN ‘blinded by rage’ and is now engaging in a “war on children” in Gaza, Minister Simon Harris has said in the Dáil.

Harris made the comments while filling in for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for today’s Leaders’ Questions. 

He said what began as an act of defence by Israel has progressed into a “war on children”.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that what Hamas did was despicable. We’ve all condemned it, it deserves condemnation. It was an act of terror on the people of Israel, it should be condemned and of course, Israel had a right to defend itself.

“But that original right to defend itself has now become in my view a war on children. And you cannot build peace on the mass graves of children. It is unfortunate that the country has become blinded by rage,” Harris said.

Harris was responding to a question from Labour leader Ivana Bacik who asked if the Government would be supporting the Social Democrats’ motion to expel the Israeli ambassador. 

“We differ in relation to our view on the ambassador and we differ very clearly,” the Minister for Higher Education responded.

He said diplomacy is not the equivalent of endorsement and pointed to the approximately 40 Irish citizens that remain trapped in Gaza, including eight year old Emily Hand, and the 400 Irish troops in the region as key reasons to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel.

“We have to be conscious of the fact that there’s an Irish-Israeli girl currently held hostage by Hamas. So we need to keep talking.

“We know that if we expelled the ambassador here, they’d expect our ambassador there and it would make it a lot less productive in terms of the work that we have to do,” Harris said. 

When asked if the Tánaiste agreed with Harris’s comments this evening, a spokesperson for Micheál Martin said that the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has been clear on his position to date.

He said Israel has a right to defend itself but it must show proportionality in that response.

“We urge very strongly deescalation and we urge an urgent ceasefire for humanitarian purposes,” the spokesperson said. 

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