Emergency stop for Tánaiste in Israel due to bomb scare

After visiting kibbutz, Micheál Martin says remaining Irish in Gaza will be evacuated within next three days

Most of the remaining Irish citizens in the Gaza Strip will be evacuated within the next three days, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said after meeting an Israeli minister at the site of a Hamas massacre near the Palestinian enclave.

Mr Martin and his team had to make an emergency stop during a bomb scare as they travelled to Jerusalem from Be’eri kibbutz, a rural settlement yards from the Gaza frontier where Israeli-Irish girl Emily Hand was taken hostage by Hamas on October 7th.

Sirens went off and the Tánaiste’s officials had to disembark from their bus and lie on the ground. Mr Martin remained in his armoured car. No one was injured, and they proceeded on their journey.

Preparing to leave Jerusalem for talks with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the Tánaiste said Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen had committed to continue helping Irish nationals and their dependents to leave Gaza.


But Mr Martin held out little prospect of a breakthrough to bring Israel’s military campaign in Gaza to a halt, saying he believed the Israeli authorities remain committed to eliminating Hamas as their prime objective.

“I get the sense this morning that Israel wants to believe that it can do that you can eliminate a mass militarily. We don’t share that view. Quite a number on Europe feel that. There has to be a political horizon at the end of the day in terms of how you resolve the overall situation in the region,” he said.

“But it seems to me from what I’m hearing, unfortunately, that there is a determination to keep going with the military campaign.”

Mr Martin said he thanked Mr Cohen for Israel’s assistance in helping Irish nationals to leave Gaza, adding that he received assurances that “the majority of our citizens” will be out within the next three days.

“And we know that there’s some coming out today although there has been a delay in respect of the processing side and few hours delay. So how that impacts on all foreign nationals coming out of Gaza today but we are hopeful.”

He was speaking after meeting Mr Cohen at the Be’eri kibbutz, a scene of devastation where he viewed the shattered remains of several burnt-out homes.

Mr Martin said he was saddened by what he saw, describing “tremendous, terrible brutality.”

“We all witnessed what were horrendous scenes of an idyllic neighbourhood being destroyed,” the Tánaiste said.

“The burning of homes, the destruction of a community and this is where Emily Hand lived and the Hand family lived in peace and it’s a community that was a peaceful community,” he added.

“And I think it brings to mind the enormity of the brutality that has visited on Israel on October the seventh and it’s important that we see that first-hand to recognise it for what it is and condemn it unreservedly.”

“Also to understand the psychology and the perspectives from the Israeli side its important to work to seek to understand that.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times