Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Gerry Adams urges Dail stand-up for Gaza

TDs caught off-guard as Sinn Fein boss calls for tribute to Gaza slain

Members of the Dail appeared somewhat bewildered yesterday as one by one they rose to their feet at the request of Gerry Adams.

The Sinn Fein leader yesterday called for TDs to stand for a minute's silence in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

But his unscheduled call caused a brief moment of confusion, with TDs apparently caught off-guard.

Nevertheless, one-by-one they followed suit and stood for a moment of quiet reflection.

While some leapt to their feet, others were a little more hesitant as they exchanged side glances to see what their neighbour was doing, before rising.

Mr Adams had said: "Can I invite you or ask you to invite the Dail to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza and the Middle East? Just stand for a minute."

The Gaza Strip has been hit by heavy artillery and 2,000 airstrikes since Operation Protective Edge was launched by the Israel Defence Force on July 8. Hamas has fired more than 1,300 rockets into Israel, reaching the country's economic and cultural heartland.

The 10 days of violence have cost an estimated 230 lives and led to more than 1,200 injuries in Gaza. One Israeli has been killed.

The Sinn Fein president expressed his "deep disappointment at the rejection by the Government of a request by Sinn Fein for a special Dail debate this morning on the "Israeli assault on Gaza".

He said afterwards: "I called for the Dail to stand for a minute's silence in solidarity with the people of Gaza. I very much welcome the positive response to this."

Mr Adams added: "The Tanaiste's (Joan Burton) refusal to allow a debate on Gaza is shameful. The Dail meeting for a special debate would have sent a powerful message to the world and particularly the people of the Gaza Strip.

"The Israeli assault on this besieged community is an act of collective punishment against a civilian population which has left 200 people, mostly civilians and children, dead and many more injured.

"The Palestinian people have been robbed of their land, imprisoned by separation walls and borders into ghettoes, Gaza has been under siege for seven years and they have little power or influence. Israel by comparison is a first world, highly developed, rich and heavily armed super-state with nuclear weapons."

Yesterday, a five-hour ceasefire ended at 3pm when a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel.

Three mortar shells were reportedly fired from Gaza into southern Israel during the ceasefire. Fighting had continued in the lead-up to the start of the ceasefire. Police in the southern Gaza town of Rafah said tank shells landed on a house, killing at least three civilians.

The Israeli military said 15 rockets were fired into Israel yesterday morning. It also said it prevented an attack by 13 militants who infiltrated into Israel through a tunnel from Gaza.

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