Belfast Telegraph

Coveney meets with Israeli ambassador to Ireland as Sinn Fein calls for expulsion

The Israeli ambassador to Ireland was summoned to a meeting by the Government in the wake of the violence and death along the Gaza border.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney met with Ze'ev Boker early on Tuesday morning when he expressed "Ireland’s shock and dismay at the level of death and injury yesterday on the Gaza Strip".

The Minister also called for restraint from Israel in the hours and days ahead.

Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday when the high-profile opening of the U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem by the Trump administration raised tension to boiling point after weeks of demonstrations.

In the wake of the deaths Sinn Fein has called for Ireland to expel the Israeli ambassador.

In a statement it said: "It is time for international community to take action against Israel for their aggression and flagrant disregard for UN resolutions.

"The Irish Government should show leadership by immediately expelling the Israeli ambassador."

In the bloodiest single day for Palestinians since 2014, Palestinian Health Ministry officials said 58 protesters were killed and 2,700 injured by live gunfire, tear gas or other means.

In a statement a spokesperson for Mr Coveney told the Irish Independent: "The ambassador has been informed of Irish demands for an independent international investigation into yesterday’s [Monday] deaths lead by the UN.

"Our mission in Ramallah reports that emergency responders in Gaza and the strips health services are overwhelmed with the level of casualties.

"The health system was already facing major challenges due to lack of equipment and essential medicines."

He said Ireland is also "very disturbed" by the injuries suffered by health workers as reported by the WHO.

There were 211 recorded attacks against health workers in Gaza, attending the large numbers of injured during mass demonstrations at the border fence.

Nine suffered sustained bullet wounds, 13 were injured by tear gas canisters and 189 suffered with tear gas inhalation. Twenty-five ambulances were also damaged.

'Massacre'

The bloodshed drew calls for restraint from some countries, including France and Britain, and stronger criticism from others, with regional power Turkey calling it “a massacre”.

The White House declined to join in urging Israel to exercise caution and pinned the blame squarely on Gaza’s ruling Hamas group, backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who described the Israeli military’s actions as self-defence of his country’s borders.

In siding squarely with Israel, Washington put distance between itself and its European allies for the second time in a week, after angering France, Germany and others last Tuesday by abandoning an international nuclear deal with Iran.

In contrast to the violent scenes in Gaza, Israeli dignitaries and guests attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to open the U.S. Embassy following its relocation from Tel Aviv.

The move fulfilled a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

Netanyahu thanked Trump for “having the courage to keep your promises”.

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, the top Democrat on the foreign relations subcommittee that covers the region, told Reuters the situation was “tragic” and said “It’s not viewed as the U.S. trying to solve a problem, it’s viewed as the U.S. just stepping away from the problem, and that’s sad.”

Irish Independent

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