Coveney: EU needs to be more influential actor in ending 'horrors in Gaza'

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney spoke during Dáil statements on the violence, saying the EU needed to act and remember that the violence was 'in our neighbourhood'
Coveney: EU needs to be more influential actor in ending 'horrors in Gaza'

People inspect the rubble of a destroyed residential building which was hit by Israeli airstrikes in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, on Thursday. Picture: AP /Adel Hana

The EU needs to be a "much more influential actor" in its role in ending the violence between Israel and Palestine, the Dáil has heard.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney made the comments during Dáil statements on the violence, saying the EU needed to act and remember that the violence was "in our neighbourhood".

He said the "horrors" seen in Gaza over the past two weeks were "a wake-up call". Mr Coveney on Wednesday announced €1.5m in humanitarian aid for the blockaded Gaza Strip, which has been under heavy Israeli airstrikes in recent days.

An Israeli artillery unit fires toward targets in the Gaza Strip, at the Israeli-Gaza border on Sunday. Picture: AP /Heidi Levine
An Israeli artillery unit fires toward targets in the Gaza Strip, at the Israeli-Gaza border on Sunday. Picture: AP /Heidi Levine

His party colleague Jennifer Carroll McNeill said it was "not acceptable" to use human shields, but is also not acceptable to "kill them where they are being used". 

She said there needs to be "an immediate cessation of violence" and urged the Israeli authorities to "think through" its legal submissions on the Sheikh Jarrah case, which saw Palestinians removed from their homes.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald called Israel a "serial violator of international law" which "operates a system of apartheid" and is a "racist regime". 

She said Ireland had a "special obligation" to intervene because "we know the colonial experience". She called on Mr Coveney and the Government to recognise the state of Palestine and to pass the Occupied Territories Bill.

Labour's Brendan Howlin said while he agreed a ceasefire must be the priority, we must "seek now to join anyone willing to join us and take a stand".

The rubble of a commercial building and Gaza health care clinic following an Israeli airstrike on Monday. Picture: AP Photo/Adel Hana
The rubble of a commercial building and Gaza health care clinic following an Israeli airstrike on Monday. Picture: AP Photo/Adel Hana

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon said  "terrorism has many forms" and the killing of children in airstrikes was "state-sponsored terrorism".

Solidarity TD Mick Barry called for an Ictu-backed general strike in Ireland.

Fine Gael's Emer Higgins recounted a trip to see the area with an NGO.

Palestinians carry the the bodies of Palestinians who were killed in overnight Israeli airstrikes that hit their homes, during their funeral in Gaza City on Sunday. Picture: AP/Abdel Kareem Hana
Palestinians carry the the bodies of Palestinians who were killed in overnight Israeli airstrikes that hit their homes, during their funeral in Gaza City on Sunday. Picture: AP/Abdel Kareem Hana

"I recall standing on a side street in Hebron under a caged roof that was burned through in places by acid thrown down from the settlement. I remember standing there and counting seven snipers who were aimed at me and my cousin, who worked for a NGO in Palestine. The tension, fear and intimidation is something I will never forget.

"The difference between those Israeli soldiers and soldiers I have come across elsewhere in the world is that I knew instinctively they were not there to protect me or the people around me."

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