Minister urges ‘proportionate’ response from Israel to ‘outrageous’ Hamas attack

An Irish minister has urged a “proportionate” response from Israel to an “outrageous” attack by Hamas militants.

It comes after a surprise attack against Israel saw gunmen enter villages and thousands of missiles launched into Israel.

Ireland’s premier Leo Varadkar and deputy premier Micheal Martin condemned the unprecedented attack, stating that the violence needed to stop and a peace process needed to take place.

Mr Martin said on Saturday that Ireland supported Israel’s right to defend itself, but said its response needed to be proportionate.

Junior minister Thomas Byrne said that the attack from Hamas was “absolutely wrong” and “outrageous”.

“Israel is entitled to defend itself, that’s clear. However, it has to be proportionate. They cannot go in and do the same thing, they need to watch what they’re doing as well,” he said, speaking on RTE’s The Week In Politics.

“We certainly believe that the ultimate answer to this is what we’ve been advocating for decades, in Fianna Fail and the Irish government, which is a two-state solution. And we’ve been working to that, and it is time that I suppose the world gets serious about that.”

Sinn Fein has written to the Ceann Comhairle, the speaker of the Irish parliament’s lower house, and the parliamentary business committee to request that the parliament reconvenes as soon as possible to discuss hostilities in Gaza and Israel.

Asked whether Sinn Fein condemns the attack by Hamas, TD Mairead Farrell said “of course we condemn… any targeting of civilians”.

Asked about a tweet sent by her parliamentary party colleague Chris Andrews who said the attack was “a direct result of years of apartheid” in Palestine, as well as Ireland and the EU not holding Israel to account, Ms Farrell said said Ireland and the EU did need “to speak out loudly in relation to any breaking of international law”.

Gaza City
An air strike on Gaza City (AP)

The Tanaiste said that he could “see tensions rising” during a trip to the region last month, and the scale of Saturday’s attack by Hamas was “quite shocking” and launched “without justification”.

He said it was “clearly a breach of international law”.

Mr Martin also said Ireland’s support for a two-state solution had not changed, and that it remained “the only sensible and rational solution to this issue”, but it needed political momentum.

“My sense is that the hardliners are growing in influence, and that’s why I believe the need to have moderate voices in the centre is key.

“So what we need really is a political peace process to get on track in a serious way,” Mr Martin said.

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