Urgent need for international community to make clear ‘catastrophic’ Rafah assault cannot happen - Martin

About 40 dependents of Irish citizens remain stuck in Gaza, Tánaiste says during trip to Jordan

There is an “urgent need” for the international community to make it “clear” that an Israeli invasion of Rafah “cannot be countenanced”, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said.

Speaking in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday, Mr Martin said such an invasion would be “catastrophic” and Gaza would not be able to sustain it.

Mr Martin, who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs, completed a two-day trip to the Middle East this week where he met his counterparts in Cairo and Amman, and visited the Rafah border crossing.

He said there are about 40 dependents of Irish citizens stuck in Gaza and that the Department of Foreign Affairs would continue to advocate on their behalf.


Mr Martin said about 90 Irish citizens and their dependents had been facilitated to evacuate the region to date.

“Some [dependents] have come later than the original numbers… some it seems are emerging through informal channels as well,” Mr Martin said.

“Once that happens, we then facilitate their reintegration into Irish society.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said that following his political engagements over recent days, he was “pessimistic” about the prospects of a ceasefire, which seemed to be going “backwards”.

“I hope I’m wrong, that’s very bad news,” Mr Martin said. “I’m also worried about the prospects of an Israeli invasion of Rafah. We spoke to humanitarian workers there yesterday, in Rafah, and Gaza would not be able to sustain such an invasion.

“The humanitarian agencies in Rafah will not be able to sustain an invasion and there’s an urgent need for the international community to make it very, very clear to Israel that an invasion cannot be countenanced.”

The Tánaiste said he could not understand why Israel was not working with other countries to get more aid into Gaza “faster and at the volumes required”.

Mr Martin said it was “unbelievable” that every consignment of aid had to go through numerous checks while describing the “unspeakable human suffering” of the people of Gaza.

He also said United Nations workers had informed him during his visit to the Rafah border crossing that Gaza was “not a good place”, in particular for women at the moment.

“There’s been a breakdown in law and order, understandably,” Mr Martin said. “There’s no cohesion and there’s a lot of violence and they’re very concerned about the plight of women in this war situation.

“Apart altogether from the prospect of death from a bomb or shootings… there are wider issues that arise in conflict situations where women’s health, safety, security, bodily integrity are at risk, and we know that from conflict situations, that is a deep concern of theirs.

“They also made the point to us that in terms of children, the psychosocial trauma is going to be an enormous issue after this, that they think children are going through extraordinary trauma in Gaza.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times