Political blame game erupts over strike on Gaza city hospital

Inside Politics: Irish political parties have struggled to agree the wording of a motion setting out Ireland’s position on the Israel-Hamas conflict

The front pages this morning carry harrowing details of a strike on a hospital in Gaza City which has reportedly claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

It represents an overwhelming loss of civilian life and could be the worst death toll from a single explosion in the ten-day Israel-Hamas conflict so far.

Both sides have blamed each other for the strike which has been condemned by EU leaders such as French president Emmanuel Macron and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

The Gazan health authorities said the blast was the result of an Israeli airstrike, while the Israel defence forces said it was caused by a rocket fired by a Palestinian faction that misfired after being launched.


Three days of mourning have been declared by president Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, according to news agency WAFA.

The strike will undoubtedly dominate US president Joe Biden’s meeting with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. For a short while last night it was unclear if Mr Biden would continue with his visit, but he departed for Tel Aviv after cancelling the Jordan leg of his Middle Eastern trip once the news broke.

As it was, Mr Biden’s trip already presented political and personal risks and challenges, as our Washington Correspondent Martin Wall reports.

“Supporting Israel is a popular cause in the United States. But among progressives in Biden’s Democratic Party there is considerable sympathy for the Palestinian cause. More than a dozen have put forward a resolution seeking a ceasefire and the provision of humanitarian assistance,” Wall reports.

Israel has so far dismissed calls for a ceasefire, saying the war “will be tough and will be long”.

The demands for the opening of some kind of humanitarian corridor for the enclave, which has had electricity, water and food supplies largely cut off, will likely grow louder as Gazans continue the grim task of removing casualties from the rubble of the hospital.

As Political Editor Pat Leahy reports, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told EU leaders yesterday evening that the EU must seek to avoid escalation of the conflict and also work to alleviate the plight of Gazans caught between Israel and Hamas.

The EU has been trying to find a way to present a coherent message that balances support for Israel’s right to defend itself against attack while also pushing for the protection of civilian lives in Gaza.

Naomi O’Leary reports that European Council president Charles Michel said Europe must be consistent in demanding respect for international law wherever conflicts occur in the world.

Expect the deepening humanitarian crisis to dominate political proceedings at home and internationally again today, as political leaders try to ascertain the cause of last night’s strike.

In the Dáil, political parties have been trying, and failing, to agree the wording of a motion setting out Ireland’s position. A debate will be held in the Dáil chamber at 5.17pm, and we will carry all the details of that discussion and, of course, events in the Middle East throughout the day in our live coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The nettle the Government does not want to grasp

Meanwhile in the committee rooms, the issue of abortion provision has reappeared on the political agenda. The Joint Committee on Health will meet at 9.30am to hear from barrister Marie O’Shea, who wrote a report recommending detailed changes to the existing law.

Many in Cabinet are fearful of reopening a debate on abortion services so soon after the successful referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The meeting will also hear from Dr Catherine Conlon and Dr Deirdre Duffy who both contributed to the wider review.

Sinn Féin committee chair Seán Crowe said that he hopes today’s meeting “will enable the committee to conclude its consideration of the report” – meaning it could land back on the Cabinet table soon.

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Dáil Éireann

Proceedings kick off with Topical Issues at 9.10am, and this will be followed by Private Members’ Business just before 10am. The Rural Independent Group are bringing a motion on driving test waiting times.

Leaders’ Questions will be taken at noon, with Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, the Regional Group and the Independent Group asking questions. There will then be questions on policy or legislation and then just after lunch, questions to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Government Business is scheduled for 2.50pm where there will be statements on trends in mortality and estimates of excess mortality in Ireland.

At 5.17pm, time has been scheduled for a motion on the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory before statements on the situation in the Middle East. On Tuesday, Opposition politicians said they were not happy with proposals to pass a motion on Ireland’s position on the Middle East conflict without a debate.
The Dáil adjourns at 10.10pm.


Commencement Matters are up at 10.30am followed by the Order of Business an hour later.

At 12.45pm, there will be a debate on the Screening of Third Country Transactions Bill 2022, which will enter second stage of the legislative process. This Bill establishes a screening mechanism for third country investments into Ireland for the first time.

Private Members’ Business is up at 4.30pm, with a motion regarding the provision of Free HRT treatment. Green Party Senators are bringing the motion which states that hormone replacement therapy should be free for all women who need it.

The Seanad adjourns at 6.30pm.


Looks like another busy day in the committee rooms.

At 9.30am, the Joint Committee on Enterprise will discuss the work of the Low Pay Commission and its recommendations in respect of the national minimum wage. The committee will hear from the commission.

As mentioned, the Joint Committee on Health meets at the same time to discuss abortion provision in Ireland, after a report by barrister Marie O’Shea recommended changes. She will appear alongside Dr Catherine Conlon and Dr Deirdre Duffy.

At 5.30pm, the Joint Committee on Education will discuss legislation offering supports for survivors of residential institutional abuse.

At the same time, the Committee on Budgetary Oversight will meet with representatives from The Economic & Social Research Institute.

The best of the rest can be found here.