Invasion of Gaza condemned
Invasion of Gaza condemned

The Dublin government and all of the political parties in the 26 Counties have condemned Israel’s invasion of Gaza and have backed calls for a ceasefire in the region.

Israeli soldiers battled Hamas forces inside the besieged Palestinian homeland today in the most serious conflict in the region in decades.

The death toll is now more than 500 in the nine days of what Israel has termed “Operation Cast Lead”. Attempts by international aid missions to bring medical supplies to the region have been blockaded or rammed by Israeli gunboats. The Palestinian population is reported to be facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

Mr Cowen called for the Israeli government to declare an immediate ceasefire and withdraw its forces. He also called for an end to rocket fire over the border and for “real political progress” on the Palestinian side.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for an immediate end to the ground operation. However, a potential UN Security Council ceasefire statement failed today as a result of US opposition.

Mr Cowen said it was “hugely disappointing” that the Security Council had failed to reach an agreement on a ceasefire.

“We need to see the Security Council of the UN confirm a ceasefire must take place so that a space for dialogue can be created,” he told Irish radio.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin said he “greatly regrets” the escalation of the situation.

“[I] would urge Israel to halt this operation and withdraw its forces from Gaza,” he said last night. “It is necessary to reiterate once again that there can be no military solution to the current crisis in Gaza.

“Israel must halt all military action in Gaza and Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups must desist from all rocket attacks launched against southern Israel.”

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams also condemned yesterday’s ground offensive into the Gaza strip and called on the International community to focus diplomatic efforts on persuading Israel to cease hostilities.

“The Israeli ground offensive in Gaza, while widely anticipated will be greeted with horror around the world,” said Mr Adams.

“The latest development marks a further escalation of the onslaught endured by the people of Gaza for the past week.

“The United Nations has advised that there is a growing shortage of basic foodstuffs and fresh water because of damage to the infrastructure in Gaza. This is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis.

“More than 400 people have already been killed while hospitals are struggling to cope with the more than 2,000 injured.

“The combined efforts of the international community, including that of the Irish Government and the EU, must now be bent towards resolving the situation in Gaza. All diplomatic efforts must be focused on persuading the Israeli Government to cease its operations in Gaza and end hostilities.

“Once again I would urge all parties and groups in the region to accept inclusive dialogue and political negotiation as the way forward and for all acts of military aggression to end immediately.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin last night announced emergency humanitarian funding of half a million Euros to help the people of Gaza. The funding will be channelled through a Humanitarian Response Fund supporting humanitarian agencies operating in Gaza.

Large numbers of people protested yesterday over the Israeli attacks in rallies across the country.

Demonstrators burnt an Israeli flag outside Leinster House in Dublin, while afterwards scores of protesters knelt in Kildare Street to pray. One man attempted to set himself alight at a protest at the Central Bank in Dublin. The man set his arms and shoulders alight before onlookers managed to extinguish the flames. He was not seriously injured.

Other demonstrations took place in Galway, Cork, Limerick, Derry and Sligo.

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