Ireland pushes for humanitarian ceasefire at meeting of EU foreign ministers

Tánaiste Micheál Martin says suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza ‘not acceptable at all’

Ireland is pushing for the European Union to call for a humanitarian ceasefire to allow vital supplies to reach Gaza at a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said.

“Ireland has called for a humanitarian ceasefire, to allow goods, aid and supplies to the hospitals there in particular, this is a matter of utmost urgency,” Mr Martin told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.

“The loss of life is enormous, is at a scale that has to be stopped, and in our view the suffering of innocent civilians and particularly children, is on a scale that requires an immediate cessation in our view.”

Martin said he had spoken to Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, and had stressed to him the importance of avoiding an escalation of conflict in the wider region, using any influence it can over Hizbullah and Hamas.


“There is an absolute imperative to avoid regional escalation here,” Martin said.

As Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes, it has also hit cells of the militant Hizbullah group within Lebanon, according to the Israeli military. Israel also bombed Damascus and Aleppo international airports over the weekend, Syrian state media said.

The EU’s national leaders are set to meet later this week and may endorse a call by the secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, for a “humanitarian pause in order to allow for safe humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need”, according to draft conclusions prepared in advance of the summit.

Martin said that the level of civilian suffering in Gaza is unacceptable.

“We understand Israel’s need to deal with a Hamas because it was an appalling attack, but the degree of suffering now that innocent civilians in Gaza are suffering is just not acceptable at all,” he said.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times