‘Collective punishment’ of Palestinians unacceptable, says Ireland

Ireland’s foreign minister on Monday called the “collective punishment” of Palestinians by Israel following the Oct. 7, 2023 attack “not acceptable,” saying Israel’s response was not proportionate.

“We believe that the response has been fully disproportionate and has also been, in our view, a breach of humanitarian law in terms of the destruction of Gaza and also in terms of the killing of civilians, innocent men, women and children,” Michael Martin said in a doorstep speech ahead of a EU Foreign Ministers Council meeting.

“We believe that cannot be justified,” Martin said and added: “The population of Gaza has been collectively punished because of the activities of Hamas, that’s not acceptable.”

He said Israel has “not been listening” to the EU and US, urging that it was “time that Israel pull back and stop this, and then we get the cease-fire, get the hostages released and get some good humanitarian aid in as fast as we possibly can.”

The minister added that Ireland and Spain would be calling for a review of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which forms the legal basis governing the bloc’s trade relations with Israel, during the meeting.

He also said the ministers would discuss the current situation with regard to a peace plan, as well the recognition of a Palestinian state, and humanitarian aid issues.

Gazans ‘cannot wait another day’ to have access to basic needs

The Spanish foreign minister also called for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza during his doorstep, saying that people in the besieged strip cannot go another day without access to basic needs.

“We are going to continue calling now more than ever for a permanent cease-fire given the risk that Israeli military operations will extend to Rafah, which would further increase this humanitarian catastrophe that has already claimed 34,000 lives,” Jose Manuel Albares said.

“We are going to request that all land points be opened once and for all for humanitarian aid to access,” Albares said.

“The civilian population of Gaza cannot wait another day to have access to things as basic as food, medicine, and drinking water,” he warned.

Regarding last week’s vote on Palestine’s UN membership, he underlined Spain’s position of being in favor of Palestine’s entry into the union.

“I believe that on Thursday, there was enormous support for Palestine’s entry into the United Nations,” he said. “It has been a very broad support and, of course, what Spain is going to do… is that sovereign recognition (of Palestine) as a member state, as 139 countries on the planet have already done, including 9 from the European Union.”

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7 last year, which Tel Aviv says killed nearly 1,200 people.

At least 34,097 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, and 76,980 injured since then, according to Palestinian health authorities.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Hostilities have continued unabated, however, and aid deliveries remain woefully insufficient to address the humanitarian catastrophe.

(Source: AA)