Varadkar calls for ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’ in Israel-Hamas war

Israel should turn power and water back on and allow humanitarian corridors to be created in Palestine, Taoiseach says

The Government is calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” to be observed by all parties in the Israel-Hamas war, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar also said Israel should turn power and water back on and allow humanitarian corridors be created in Palestine.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said the Government condemned unequivocally the bombing of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday night and that it “might yet prove to be a war crime”.

Mr Varadkar said the full details of the attack, whether it was deliberate and who it was carried out by, were not yet known and an independent investigation was needed if possible.


“It [the hospital attack] was an atrocity. It violated the rules of war and violated basic humanity. It might yet prove to be a war crime. But whatever has happened, the violence must stop and we stand in full solidarity with the people of Israel and Palestine who want the violence to stop and there are many of them,” he said.

“We do not yet know the details, all the facts about the attack, whether it was deliberate or intentional, whether it was carried out by the Israeli Defence Forces or Palestinian Hamas or Islamic Jihad, and we do need an independent investigation if that is at all possible. But what is certain is the Palestinian civilians here are the innocent victims. That is absolutely certain.”

The Fine Gael leader said the Government was calling for three things to happen immediately: a humanitarian ceasefire to be observed by all parties to the conflict, for Hamas to release its hostages and without precondition and to lay down its arms, and for Israel to turn back on the power and water and allow humanitarian corridors to be created to relieve the people of Palestine.

Mr Varadkar also said that over past decades, the Israeli Defence Forces, Hamas and Islamic Jihad were capable of “terrible atrocities” and the Government condemned that unreservedly.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the destruction of hospitals was “a direct violation of international law” and a war crime.

Ms McDonald said the bombing of the hospital in Gaza City the previous night “demonstrates that nowhere is safe in Gaza”.

“We are now bearing witness to human catastrophe on an unimaginable scale,” she said.

The Dublin Central TD said there was no clean water in Gaza and as a result there were fears of a cholera outbreak in the region.

Ms McDonald said starving people, carpet bombing civilians and the destruction of hospitals was not defence but “an all-out offensive assault on a refugee population trapped in the world’s largest open-air prison”.

She called for a “full and immediate ceasefire” and added that the actions of the Israeli government had to be condemned.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the Israeli ambassador to Ireland’s response on the radio this morning “shamefully focused less on the human tragedy resulting from the attack on the hospital and more on the attribution of blame for the bombing of the hospital”.

Ms Bacik said there was now a need for an independent international investigation into last night’s attack on a hospital and said it should be carried out by the International Criminal Court.

“What is undoubtedly the case is that even before last night’s attack, that Israel had been committing horrific breaches of international law upon the people of Gaza; the bombardment of civilians and civilian infrastructure, the siege and starvation tactics being deployed upon the people of Gaza, the forced evacuation of thousands into the south of this tiny open air prison.

“All these amounts to clear violations of international humanitarian law.”

The Dublin Bay South TD added that Ireland and the Government needed to be “at the forefront” of calls at EU and UN level calling for Israel to respect international humanitarian law.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times