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14th Nov 2023

“War on children” – Simon Harris strongly condemns Israel’s actions in Gaza

Simon Kelly

Simon Harris

“You cannot build peace on the graves of children.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has condemned the acts Israel’s actions in Gaza, calling it a “war on children”.

Addressing the Dáil on Tuesday, November 14, Minister Harris said, “There’s absolutely no doubt that what Hamas did was despicable, we’ve all condemned it.

“It was an act of terror on the people of Israel. It should be condemned and Israel had a right to defend itself.

“But that original right to defend itself has now become, in my view, a war on children and you cannot build peace on the mass graves of children.”

Minister Harris added that it is “unfortunate that a country has become blinded by rage.”

The comments will be seen as some of the clearest condemnations of Israel so far by a member of the Irish government.

During Leader’s Questions in the Dáil on Tuesday, Labour leader Ivana Bacik asked if the government will support the motion to expel the Israeli Ambassador, highlighting “unforgivable attacks on hospitals; loss of life of newborn babies in incubators, of older people on life support and oxygen, those on dialysis, women in labour.”

Simon Harris, who filled in for the Taoiseach, said that Ireland and Israel “need to keep talking,” referring to the 40 Irish citizens still trapped in Gaza.

Government to vote on issues involving the Israel-Palestine conflict

The government is set to vote on several issues centring on the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict in the Dáil on Wednesday, November 14.

Among the motions put forward by the Social Democrats is to expel Israeli ambassador Dana Erlich, who has made several comments which have caused outrage amongst opposition parties.

 

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Since starting her role in September, Ms Erlich has since accused President Michael D Higgins of repeating “misinformation” after he said that Israel was “creating a huge humanitarian crisis”.

The ambassador has also stated that Ireland is “not politically neutral”, admitting that she was “shocked” by the reaction of the Irish public to the ongoing conflict.

Despite her comments, it is expected that the government will vote against the motion to expel the ambassador, citing the ongoing need for communication between countries.

The government will also vote on a motion by Sinn Féin to refer Israel to be investigated by the International Criminal Court, as well as a motion for Ireland to push at an EU level for a suspension of trade with Israel.

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