Irish deputy leader urges Israel ‘to show humanity’ and allow more aid into Gaza

Ireland’s deputy premier has appealed to Israel “to show humanity” and allow more aid into Gaza amid a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation.

Micheal Martin, who is Ireland’s foreign affairs minister, was speaking at an event in Dublin with EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic.

Mr Lenarcic described the conditions in Gaza as “a man-made disaster”.

European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic
European Commissioner Janez Lenarcic said the EU was working on creating a maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza (Brian Lawless/PA)

The United Nations said that a quarter of the region’s 2.3 million population faced starvation and around 80% had fled their homes since Israel launched its military campaign.

The offensive was undertaken in response to an attack by Hamas militants on October 7.

On Thursday, the UN’s top court ordered Israel to take measures to open more land crossings to allow food, water, fuel and other supplies into Gaza to tackle crippling shortages in the war-ravaged enclave.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued two new so-called provisional measures as part of a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide.

Ireland’s premier Leo Varadkar said Israel “must immediately comply” with the ICJ provisional measures while the country’s president said the order would ensure the provision of urgently needed basic services.

President Michael D Higgins said: “It is now not morally acceptable that a single voice would be silent in the European Union or international community, all countries must do all that they can to ensure the immediate delivery of aid, a ceasefire and the release of all hostages in line with this week’s UN Security Council resolution.”

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Martin said the measures are about “trucks getting in over the borders and the land crossings”.

“Nothing can get away from the fact that what would really have an immediate impact is really a proper flow of aid through the land routes.

“It is criminal, it is absolutely a scandal that children are malnourished, that half the population are facing famine, and others in terms of insecurity. There is no need for this.

“There’s excessive checking at the borders. And I spoke this morning to Ayman Safadi, the foreign minister in Jordan, I spoke to Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry yesterday, and I spoke to the Palestinian prime minister yesterday also.

“They’re telling me the situation is dire, absolutely catastrophic. And I would appeal to Israel to show humanity in terms of enabling the essentials of life to get into Gaza for the civilian population.”

Tanaiste Micheal Martin, centre, and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic, right
Mr Martin, centre, met Mr Lenarcic, right, in Dublin on Thursday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Lenarcic said the EU was doing “everything we can” and was even supporting humanitarian aid air drops, which he said were “inefficient and sometimes dangerous”.

It was also working on a maritime corridor from Cyprus, even though it would only be able to provide “significant” quantities of aid once the Gaza Strip had a port.

“There is sufficient food in Egypt and Jordan to feed the entire population of Gaza, all 2.3 million people for months, at least until August. And this food is able to get in sufficient quantities into Gaza,” he said.

“It would take a one to two-hour drive from those countries to Gaza to deliver this.”

He added: “I would like to praise the consistent support of Ireland for the humanitarian action in Gaza, including the support and increased support to UNRWA, which remains a backbone of humanitarian action in Gaza, and I would like to thank Ireland for this support and for this approach.”