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Retaliatory Israeli air strikes hit Khan Younis, Gaza Strip AP
Thomas Byrne

Sports Minister urges ‘proportionate’ response from Israel to ‘outrageous’ Hamas attack

‘Israel is entitled to defend itself, that’s clear. However, it has to be proportionate,’ said Thomas Byrne.

SPORTS MINISTER THOMAS Byrne has urged a “proportionate” response from Israel to an “outrageous” attack by Hamas militants.

It comes after a surprise attack against Israel saw gunmen enter villages and thousands of missiles launched into Israel.

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

Martin said yesterday that Ireland supported Israel’s right to defend itself, but said its response needed to be proportionate.

Asked whether the response had been proportionate, Martin said that more “hard information” was needed to make that assessment.

Junior minister Thomas Byrne today said the attack from Hamas was “absolutely wrong” and “outrageous”.

“Israel is entitled to defend itself, that’s clear. However, it has to be proportionate. They cannot go in and do the same thing, they need to watch what they’re doing as well,” he said, speaking on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics.

“We certainly believe that the ultimate answer to this is what we’ve been advocating for decades, in Fianna Fáil and the Irish government, which is a two-state solution. And we’ve been working to that, and it is time that I suppose the world gets serious about that.”

brussels-belgium-20th-sep-2022-minister-thomas-byrne-arrives-for-a-general-affairs-council-meeting-at-the-eu-headquarters-in-brussels-belgium-on-september-20-2022-credit-alexandros-michailidis File image of Thomas Byrne. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Sinn Féin has written to the Ceann Comhairle and the parliamentary business committee to request that the parliament reconvenes as soon as possible to discuss hostilities in Gaza and Israel.

Asked whether Sinn Féin condemns the attack by Hamas, TD Mairead Farrell said “of course we condemn… any targeting of civilians”.

Asked about a tweet sent by her party colleague Chris Andrews who said the attack was “a direct result of years of apartheid” in Palestine, as well as Ireland and the EU not holding Israel to account, Farrell said Ireland and the EU did need “to speak out loudly in relation to any breaking of international law”.

Martin, who is also minister for Foreign Affairs, said yesterday evening he now feared for people in Gaza and said it was “vital that the voice of moderation comes to the fore”.

The Tánaiste said 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”.

Martin also said Ireland’s support for a two-state solution had not changed, and that it remained “the only sensible and rational solution to this issue”, but it needed political momentum.

“My sense is that the hardliners are growing in influence, and that’s why I believe the need to have moderate voices in the centre is key.

“So what we need really is a political peace process to get on track in a serious way,” Martin said.

Press Association