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Israel has become ‘blinded by rage’, Taoiseach tells Dáil

Taoiseach Leo Vardakar has said he believes Israel has become “blinded by rage” and that he is not sure if the country is listening to anyone in the world, including the US.

Speaking during Leaders Questions, Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that there was a serious risk of a massacre in Rafah in southern Gaza, if a ground assault was to occur, which would be a “gross violation of international law on top of all of the other violations of international law which Israel is responsible for”.

Mr Varadkar said he believed a ceasefire proposal, negotiated by Egypt, Qatar and the US, should be accepted by both Israel and Hamas.

It followed questions by Labour leader Ivana Bacik, who called for the EU-Israel trade association agreement to be terminated.

She also told the Dáil that she had received legal advice that the Occupied Territories Bill is compatible with EU law.

In response, Mr Varadkar said that he had spoken to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen regarding the EU-Israel trade agreement yesterday.

However, he added that it could not be withdrawn without unanimity among EU nations, which was not possible to secure.

Mr Varadkar reiterated that the advice of the current and former attorney generals is that the Occupied Territories Bill is not compliant with EU law.

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Also speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Israeli ambassador has been “justifying genocide on RTÉ” and should be “sent packing”.

The Taoiseach responded that “it’s not the practice of the Government to expel ambassadors”.

Mr Varadkar said that he needs to be able to discuss the well-being of Irish citizens and troops with Israel.

Earlier, Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney accused Israel of “behaving like a rogue state” after its latest military action in Rafah.

Israel is facing mounting international pressure in relation to its incursion into the southern Gaza city, where more than one million Palestinians are trapped.

Mr Coveney said that it is not acceptable to “behave like a monster to defeat a monster,” which is what, he said, Israel is now doing.

“We are witnessing Israel behaving like a like a rogue state, quite frankly,” he said.

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“They’re ignoring the International Court of Justice. They seem now to even be ignoring their closest allies in countries like the United States and the UK, who are clearly calling for restraint, looking for the basis of a ceasefire, wanting to work with Israel to bring an end to this savagery that is continuing in Gaza.

“I think those of us who contribute to international calls for a ceasefire need to intensify those calls now,” Mr Coveney added.

However, People Before Profit deputy Richard Boyd Barret says it’s “unconscionable” for Minister Coveney to say Israel is “behaving like a rogue state” but then the Government fails to “impose a single sanction”.

Speaking outside Leinster House, he said these comments must be seen as “weasel words” if no action is taken, as it appears Israel will move on Rafah and “thousands” more Palestinians will be killed.

He said Israel had brought the entire population of Gaza to the brink of famine and was responsible for slaughter and genoicde.

He called on Government to “be brave” and to do what was done to apatheid-era South Africa and impose sanctions on Israel.

Micheál Martin was speaking as he arrived to this morning’s Cabinet meeting (Pic: RollingNews.ie)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said the situation in Gaza is dire.

He said Ireland will continue with colleagues in Europe and elsewhere to press for an end to this “horrible war”.

He said it is “absolutely unacceptable to bombard and to have a ground invasion into Gaza…we know from all the humanitarian agencies from the United Nations that there has been massive displacement of people.

“There is nowhere else for these people to go. The level of death and destruction and trauma visited upon families within Gaza is at a level that I think most people across the world are abhorred and really repulsed by.”

Yesterday, Mr Martin said he was in no doubt that “the continued bombardment on Rafah will constitute a war crime” and “gravely violates international humanitarian law”.

Israel’s Ambassador in Ireland Dana Erlich said yesterday that the Israeli operation is part of the overall operation to bring back all of the kidnapped people and eliminate Hamas.

Additional reporting: Sandra Hurley


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