Tuesday 4 August 2015

Ireland show 'cowardice' following Gaza inquiry vote

John Downing and Fionnan Sheahan

Published 24/07/2014 | 02:30

People take part in a protest march through Dublin city centre in in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Photo credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
People take part in a protest march through Dublin city centre in in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Photo credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A Palestinian relative holds the body of a two-year-old girl, who medics said was killed by an Israeli tank shell, at the morgue in Beit Lahiya. Photo credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
Light streaks and smoke trails are seen as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel. Reuters
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal talks during a news conference in Doha. Meshaal said he was ready to accept a humanitarian truce in Gaza where the Islamist group is fighting an Israeli military offensive, but would not agree to a full ceasefire until the terms had been negotiated. Reuters
Palestinians flee during a two hour temporary ceasefire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood. AP
People hold a banner next to sheets stained in red paint, mimicking blood, depicting the children, who medics said were killed by a shell fired by an Israeli naval gunboat, on a beach in Gaza City during a protest against Israel's military action in Gaza, at La Constitucion square in Malaga, southern Spain. Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and United Nations diplomats pursued talks on halting the fighting that has claimed more than 600 lives. The banner reads, "Israel kills. The international community is silent". Photo credit: REUTERS/Jon Nazca
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, as Israeli airstrikes pummeled a wide range of locations along the coastal area and diplomatic efforts intensified to end the two-week war. Photo credit: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa
An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires towards the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces pounded Gaza on Wednesday, meeting stiff resistance from Hamas Islamists and sending thousands of residents fleeing. Photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Palestinian rescue workers inspect the remains of a house which witnesses said was destoyed by an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City. Israeli forces pounded the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, sending thousands of residents fleeing, and said it was meeting stiff resistance from Hamas Islamists, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Tel Aviv to push ceasefire talks. Some 643 Palestinians, many of them children and civilians, have died in the conflagration, including a seven-year-old hit by a shell in southern Gaza early Wednesday, a medic said. Photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Palestinians walk past a damaged mosque, which witnesses said was hit by Israeli shelling, in Gaza City. Reuters
Palestinian relatives of Tawfiq al -Aga, who medics said was killed in Israeli shelling, mourn during his funeral in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Reuters
Israeli soldiers play cards at a military staging area outside the Gaza Strip. Reuters
A Jewish worshipper takes part in a special prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City for the well-being of Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Reuters
The Israeli community of Netiv Haasara is seen in front of flares fired by the Israeli army in Gaza. Reuters

The Government is being accused of showing "political cowardice" by failing to vote on a United Nations inquiry into human rights abuses in Israel's military action in Gaza.

But Ireland agreed with the EU position of seeking an inquiry into abuses by both sides in the Gaza conflict.

Ireland is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which agreed to launch an international inquiry into alleged violations by Israel in Gaza.

But the Irish Government delegation abstained from the vote, which was approved by 29 votes in favour, one against and 17 abstentions.

Only the United States voted against holding the inquiry. The 17 abstentions included the nine EU member states which are members of the UNHRC.

The majority of the UN human rights body is pro-Palestinian.

Ireland abstained based on the EU position of wanting an inquiry to look at violations of human rights by both sides, including those committed by Hamas and other militant groups.

The EU also wanted to condemn the firing of rockets into Israeli civilian areas as well as recognising Israel's right to defend itself.

As a result the EU did not support the resolution and the nine member states abstained.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the nine EU member states agreed a position, so Ireland abstained.

Ireland's Ambassador Patricia O'Brien said Irish people have been "appalled" by the upsurge of violence in Gaza, and especially the very high and unacceptable level of civilian casualties.

"Ireland condemns both the firing of missiles from Gaza into Israel by Hamas and other militant groups, and the killing of hundreds of civilians in military attacks by Israel on targets in Gaza which fail to respect the requirement under international law for any military action to be proportionate and discriminate. It is clear to us that neither side is paying adequate regard to the cost of their actions on innocent civilians," she said at the UN human rights council meeting. The vote was taken during an emergency debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

But Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams accused the Government of "political cowardice" in abstaining in the vote to set up an international Commission of Inquiry into allegations of war crimes.

Irish Independent

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