Irish deputy premier says everything being done to help Irish citizens in Gaza

Micheal Martin said a distinction needs to be drawn between Palestinians and Hamas militants.

Ireland’s deputy premier said everything is being done to help Irish citizens in Gaza ahead of a planned incursion by the Israeli military.

Micheal Martin said government officials have been in touch with authorities about its dual-citizens in the walled enclave, and with the Irish army’s chief of staff in relation to Irish peacekeepers in Lebanon.

The Tanaiste and foreign affairs minister said diplomatic efforts are being made to prevent the spread of tensions to Lebanon and “deescalate the situation”.

He called on the protection of civilians to be prioritised and for a distinction to be drawn between Palestinians and Hamas militants.

“We’re very conscious of what could happen so we’re monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Speaking from Galway, he said he has always been concerned about bombs being dropped on built-up areas, saying there is “no doubt” innocent people are killed when an area like Gaza is targeted.

He also said the Irish government has been in touch with the families of Irish people in Gaza during the “fraught situation”.

He said: “We’ve been working with our dual citizens, Irish citizens in Gaza, over the last number of days.

Joe and Helen O’Toole Community Nursing Unit in Tuam opening
Tanaiste Micheal Martin (PA)

“Our embassy in Israel has been in touch. We’ve been anxious to work through the authorities there and we’re going to continue to do that.

“We have been working with the families concerned and with the citizens.”

He added: “We have been fairly careful in terms of our public commentary on this because this is a fraught situation.

“So we would prefer to work with the authorities on the ground to see can we do everything we can to support our citizens, but it’s clearly challenging because of the nature of what’s going on there.

“So just be assured that we’re doing everything we possibly can and will do everything we possibly can to assist those citizens.”

He said he did not wish to understate the impact of Hamas’s attack on the Israeli people – but said upholding humanitarian law “matters”.

“We want corridors open, we want to work with countries right now – work with Israel, Egypt, Jordan and others – to get humanitarian corridors open so we can get the food supplies, water into Gaza,” he said.

“It is dire, shocking, what the people of Gaza are going through right now and we have to distinguish… Palestinians and Gazans from Hamas.

“It’s a very, very difficult situation but one has to, in my view, always put the protection of civilians as the number one priority.”

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