Israel’s defence against Hamas has become ‘war on children’ - Harris

Minister tells Dáil Government has sent further funds to International Criminal Court in relation to Gaza investigation

Israel’s original right to defend itself against Hamas has now become “a war on children”, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has told the Dáil.

Mr Harris said the Government has decided to make “an additional financial allocation” to the International Criminal Court specifically in relation to its ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine and Gaza.

The Fine Gael TD, who was standing in for Leaders’ Questions on Tuesday, said there was absolutely no doubt what Hamas did was “despicable” and it had been condemned.

“It was an act of terror on the people of Israel, it should be condemned and of course, Israel had a right to defend itself,” he said.


“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.

“It is unfortunate that a country has become blinded by rage.”

Mr Harris was responding to Labour leader Ivana Bacik, who said the International Committee of the Red Cross had warned that hospitals in Gaza were at risk of turning into morgues.

“We’ve seen an appalling loss of civilian life on the streets of Gaza, over 11,000 civilians, including 4000 children,” she said.

“We’re seeing 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, our thoughts are with all of those so unforgivably and appallingly affected,” she said.

Ms Bacik said it was clear further action needed to be taken “by all of us” and that increasingly other countries were severing diplomatic relations with Israel over their “heinous breaches of international law”.

She said it was time for the Government to reflect on whether the Israeli ambassador’s position remained tenable.

Mr Harris said diplomacy was not the equivalent of endorsement and the Government had to be conscious there were around 400 Irish troops on peacekeeping missions in the region and around 40 Irish citizens trapped in Gaza as well as an Irish-Israeli girl currently held hostage by Hamas.

The minister said if the Government was to expel the Israeli ambassador, Israel would likely expel the Irish ambassador.

He added the Government had decided to make an additional financial allocation to the International Criminal Court “specifically in the context of the ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine and in Gaza”, on the recommendation of the Tánaiste.

Mr Harris said the Government wanted to “make sure they’re [ICC] supported and resourced in their work”.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times