Irish Republican News · October 15, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Call for halt to Gaza attacks

Sinn Féin has called on the international community to urge Israel to end its two-week military operation on the Gaza strip.

After a meeting in Jericho with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekhat, former Belfast Mayor Alex Maskey said Palestinians who supported the peace process felt badly undermined by the attacks which have seen around 130 lives lost over the past two weeks.

As more Palestinians died in an air strike on the Jabaliyah refugee camp, the South Belfast Assembly member said: “It was clear from the meeting with Mr Erekhat today that the Palestinians right now feel that the prospect of peace is very bleak.

“Blood is being spilt on a daily basis and it is being further exacerbated by the Israelis cutting through huge swathes of Palestinian settlements with the wall they have been erecting.

“It is quite clear that Palestinians who have been promoting the peace process feel undermined each day by Israeli actions.”

In the latest incident in the north of the Gaza strip, the Israeli Army said it had killed three militants.

Around 130 Palestinians have died in the Israeli offensive, with a high civilian death toll. In one incident a 13-year-old girl carrying a schoolbag was gunned down by Israeli soldiers.

Israel has said the operation is a response to Palestinian rocket attacks on their towns.

However Mr Maskey said Palestinian leaders believed the Israeli attacks were “playing into the hands of more extreme groups like Hamas.”

“There is a lot of distress right here, a lot of despair and a lot of anger - not just at the huge loss of life, but also at the stranglehold on the area.”

Mr Maskey said the international community needed to come “fully in behind the road map and boost the peace process.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News