Trócaire commended the Irish Government for their strong stance on calling for an end to the Israeli Hamas conflict. The Irish Government must now also express in the strongest possible terms its alarm at the failure of the EU to hold Israel to account for breaches of international law. The world must unite around the principle of protecting civilians.
The targeting of civilians and hostage taking by Hamas is to be condemned outright. Attacks against civilians violate international humanitarian law. Israel must also ensure full respect for international humanitarian and human rights law in all military operations.
The President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, were in Israel yesterday (13th Oct). These high-profile EU leaders spoke quite rightly about the horror of the attacks on innocent Israelis and called for the immediate release of those who were taken hostage by Hamas. Trócaire absolutely endorses those positions. However, they failed to call out the collective punishment being inflicted on ordinary Gazans through continued airstrikes and the complete blockade of the territory. This collective punishment is a war crime under international law.
Caoimhe de Barra, Trócaire’s CEO, said, “There is a mounting fear that catastrophic civilian casualties will be the result of any Israeli ground assault into Gaza. All of the signs are pointing to this taking place very soon. Yesterday the Israeli government warned 1.1 million people to evacuate northern Gaza. This has been described by the UN as dangerous and impossible to carry out. Gaza is already one of the world’s most densely populated pieces of land, with more than 2 million people crammed into 140 square miles. There are thousands of injured people in northern Gaza, elderly people, mothers with young children and other vulnerable people who will be unable to move from the area.”
“We are continuing to support our partners in Israel and Gaza at this crucial time as they provide humanitarian support to those who are affected by the conflict. They have told us that the situation in Gaza is a humanitarian crisis of almost unimaginable proportions. Our partners in Gaza and their families are facing the same threats as the rest of the population. We pray that they remain safe over the coming days. They will be ready to continue their work on the ground helping those affected by this crisis as soon as they can safely do so.”