Government 'engaged' on Gaza
Published 30/07/2014 | 15:34
The Government has been actively engaged with Israel and Palestine in an effort to stop violence in Gaza, the foreign affairs minister said.
Charlie Flanagan said last night's attack on a UN-run school housing refugees was utterly unacceptable and called for an immediate ceasefire.
Massive rallies have been held in Dublin in recent days in support of victims of Israeli bombardment.
Mr Flanagan said: "Can I say that the violence and loss of life in Gaza is utterly unacceptable - it has to stop."
He will address the Seanad, which is being recalled to debate the escalating crisis, tomorrow.
He added following a meeting in Belfast: "I have been actively engaged at the diplomatic level with both the Israelis and the Palestinians and indeed with the Egyptians.
"What happened last night in perpetration of violent acts causing death in the UN-run school is utterly unacceptable and indeed an immediate ceasefire is absolutely essential.
"I believe that every effort must be made to ensure the cessation of hostilities and the bringing of parties together to discuss a medium and long-term solution to what is a most difficult problem on the world stage."
An estimated 1,200 Palestinians and 55 Israelis have been killed in the conflict.
Israel launched its offensive in Gaza after a surge in rocket fire from the territory.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, has said it will not stop fighting until a blockade on the area, maintained by both Israel and Egypt, is lifted.
In the latest tragedy, 15 people died and dozens were hurt after Israel attacked the UN-run school housing refugees in Gaza despite warnings that civilians were there, the UN told the BBC.
Mr Flanagan said Ireland was a small, neutral but influential state.
"We can play our part to ensure that we convey to all parties what is happening there in terms of loss of life as being utterly and totally unacceptable," he said.
This month, pro-Palestinian activists rallied in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Members of Gaza Action Ireland and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign called on the Government to take action against Israel's military offensive by expelling the Israeli ambassador and boycotting Israeli consumer goods.
Organisers called the protest a "die-in" and asked the crowd to lay on the ground holding signs with the names and ages of Palestinians killed in the conflict.
Protesters later marched to the top of Grafton Street for another "die-in".
Fianna Fail Seanad Leader Senator Darragh O'Brien said he would be calling on the minister to put more pressure on the EU to intervene to secure an immediate ceasefire.
"What is going on is absolute carnage and against all international legal obligations," he said.
"How many more people have to die before there is direct international intervention?
"The time for platitudes is well gone.
"Children are being murdered on an hourly basis in Gaza.
"Describing it as 'appalling and devastating' is not enough."