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Source: Ireland
4 October 2004

Minister Ahern expresses concern at violence in Gaza

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., has expressed his great concern at the deaths and injuries which have been caused in the current upsurge of violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. Up to sixty people have been killed, many of them civilians including children, and dozens more injured during the major Israeli military incursion into the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. This incursion is stated to be in response to continuing rocket attacks by Palestinian groups into southern Israel which resulted in the death of two young children last week.

The Minister strongly supported the statement issued by the Netherlands Presidency on behalf of the European Union last Friday. The Minister unequivocally condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian groups which have taken place in recent days and demanded their immediate end. He also called on the Palestinian Authority to act, to the fullest extent of its powers, to bring about a total ceasefire and put an end to such terrorist outrages.

The Minister urged the Israeli authorities to take every precaution to avoid causing civilian casualties and to conduct operations in full conformity with the obligations of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. While recognising Israel’s right and duty to protect its own citizens, the Minister expressed concern at what appears to be the disproportionate force being deployed by the Israeli Defence Forces, including the bulldozing of Palestinian homes and economic infrastructure.

Addressing all parties, Minister Ahern recalled the Government’s longstanding position that such actions, far from leading to a resolution of the conflict, only postpone the day when an Israeli state and a Palestinian state will be able to live side by side in peace and security. He said that the current upsurge of violence once again illustrates that there can be no substitute for political negotiations between the parties to the conflict leading to a lasting political settlement.

The Minister called on both parties to work for an immediate ceasefire as a prelude to renewed political contacts.

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