Martin condemns Gaza airstrikes

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin today strongly condemned Israel’s devastating air strikes against Gaza which have killed as many as 140 people.

Mr Martin urged Israel to immediately halt its attacks and allow humanitarian agencies access to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory.

“I condemn in the strongest terms Israel’s action in launching air strikes in Gaza against Hamas targets which have resulted in widespread civilian fatalities,” he said.

“These actions, far from ending the cycle of violence which has gripped both Gaza and southern Israel in recent weeks, are unfortunately only likely to escalate the situation and make the search for an effective ceasefire in Gaza even more difficult.”

Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in an unprecedented series of simultaneous strikes.

Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble.

Health Ministry official Moawiya Hassanain said at least 120 people were killed, but other reports have put the death count as high as 140.

In one of the Hamas compounds, bodies of more than a dozen uniformed security officers were seen lying on the ground.

“I want to issue a strong appeal to both sides, during this season of peace for many throughout the world, to step back from the precipice and desist from any further acts of violence,” said Mr Martin.

“Israel must immediately cease its offensive operations in Gaza and allow unrestricted access for humanitarian agencies to assist the many victims of these appalling attacks.”

Mr Martin also condemned the firing of rockets into Israeli territory.

“The people of southern Israel have as much entitlement to live in peace and security as do the population of Gaza,” he said.

“Ireland will support all international efforts to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and help re-establish an effective ceasefire.

“In this regard, I would like to acknowledge the considerable efforts which the Government of Egypt has been making.”

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