Israeli envoy to face Oireachtas committee grilling

ISRAELI ambassador Dr Zion Evrony has agreed to come before the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee this week to face down cross-party condemnation of his country’s army storming of an aid flotilla.

Committee chairman Michael Woods confirmed the meeting will take place on Thursday at 4.15pm.

Dr Evrony will be asked to explain why the commandos boarded the flotilla and opened fire. At least nine people were killed.

Dr Woods said the “committee is seeking a full and frank account of the goings-on involving the Israeli military and the vessels carrying aid”.

Dr Evrony took a defiant stance yesterday when he said he was neither ashamed nor embarrassed by what had happened.

He said if Dublin was being hit by 20,000 rockets every year, Ireland would be equally forceful in its response. However, many individual members of the all-party committee have already come out to condemn Israel’s action.

Fine Gael foreign affairs spokesman Billy Higgins said an international inquiry needed to be established to decide between the competing accounts of what happened.

Labour Party human rights spokesman Joe Costello said the international community could no longer turn a blind eye to the crisis in Gaza.

He said it should crack down on Israel’s tactics. “This attack was carried out in international waters and was a violent and unprovoked attack on a peaceful flotilla. Israel has acted like a rogue state in this matter.

“The use of lethal force by the Israeli commandos is an international outrage,” he said.

This was supported by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who said the situation in Gaza needed to be resolved and, if not, the flotilla should be allowed land.

“Whilst the Israeli government has withdrawn from Gaza, they remain a de facto occupying force since they decide what gets into Gaza and who gets out of it.

“The cause of this problem relates directly to the fact that there is a humanitarian blockade. I believe that is in violation of international law.

“People are entitled to have humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s AengusÓ Snodaigh, who was denied the right to sail with the six-vessel flotilla, said it was a peaceful exercise and Israel engaged in an unjustified attack.

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