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Tánaiste Micheál Martin announced an increase in aid to UN agencies today. Leah Farrell/
israel-hamas war

'The time is now': TDs call for ceasefire and for humanitarian corridors to be opened in Gaza

The government has announced an immediate aid package of €13m in response to what the UN has described as the “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe” unfolding in Gaza.

STATEMENTS ARE CURRENTLY being heard in the Dáil on the situation in the Middle East, with TDs from all parties calling for a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors in Gaza. 

Opening the session, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said he has never received as many communications “in respect of anything” as he has on the situation in Israel and Gaza in the last 11 days. 

Tánaiste Micheál Martin once again condemned the actions of Hamas, describing their attack on Israel on October 7 as “savage and brutal” and expressed Ireland’s “deepest condolences to the Israeli people”.

He again said he has been “absolutely clear” that Hamas must release all hostages unconditionally. 

“I’ve also underlined that, in line with international law, Israel has the right to defend itself against attack. However, this must be done within the parameters of international humanitarian law,” he said. 

The Tánaiste announced an immediate aid package of €13m in response to what the UN has described as the “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe” unfolding in Gaza.

This will be in addition to Ireland’s core funding already allocated.

€10mn of this will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and €3mn for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Palestine Humanitarian Fund.

Ireland’s assistance program for Palestine has been in existence since the year 2000.

“The program this year was to amount to €16m. That will now almost double following today’s decision in light of the extensive needs in Gaza,” the Tánaiste said.

He urged all of the European Union to “step up” and provide whatever financial support they can to UNRWA. 

The Tánaiste added that it is “critical” that statements from the European Union, the United States and others “return a perspective of a lasting and sustainable peace based on the two state solution”.

He said in recent years there have been accusations that the two state solution has been “repeated as a mantra without serious efforts to move in this direction”.

“That cannot continue. If there was a time to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process, it is now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said: “Our hearts break for the loss of Israeli lives on that fateful night of October 7. But be very clear that the Israeli offences against Palestine predate that night of horrific loss, which has been roundly and fully condemned.

“That condemnation stands in stark contrast to the refusal and failure of our own government in Dublin and of governments across the European Union and the world to condemn Israeli violations of international law. I believe that is shameful.”

McDonald said she would remind the Irish government that interventions and charitable acts for the Palestinian people “do not relieve you as the government of your primary responsibility to hold Israel accountable to the world for its acts of impunity, and its violation of international law.”

She said Ireland “can and must” be a leading voice for dialogue for ceasefires and for peace.

McDonald added:

Gaza cannot become the graveyard of international law.

Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin’s foreign affairs spokesperson condemned Hamas’ targeting of civilians in the most “callous and inhumane manner” on October 7. 

He said this was a clear breach of international law but added that “Israel has breached international law virtually every single day for decades”.

Carthy said Ireland must be one of the countries that leads the way with calls for peace.

“We know colonialism, we know oppression. But we also know conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

“Our call tonight must be immediate and unequivocal ceasefires,” he said.

Labour’s foreign affairs spokesperson Brendan Howlin said Gaza cannot return to the status quo and that allowing that to happen would “create even more chaos”.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik thanked the Tánaiste for his engagement with opposition parties but said Labour wants to see a number of amendments to the Dáil’s motion on the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory.

These amendments include a condemnation of Israeli actions in breach of international law and a call for the International Criminal Court to conduct an independent investigation into the bombing of the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza last night.

Labour also wants to see a condemnation of the actions of the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in “appearing to offer unqualified support for Israel without any requirement that Israel comply with international law”. 

TDs will vote on the cross-party Dáil motion later tonight. 

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