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Irish FM: EU discuss imposing sanction on Israel for the first time

May 28, 2024 at 7:02 pm

Irish Foreign minister Micheal Martin attends a joint press conference with his German counterpart at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, on January 18, 2024. [MICHELE TANTUSSI/AFP via Getty Images]

Irish Foreign Minister, Micheál Martin, announced yesterday that European Union foreign ministers have held a “significant” discussion for the first time on imposing sanctions on Israel if it fails to adhere to international humanitarian law.

“There was a very clear consensus about the need to uphold the international humanitarian legal institutions,” Martin told reporters following the Foreign Affairs Council.

It comes after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Friday that Israel must cease its offensive in Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip, and must open the Rafah border crossing to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the enclave.

However, Israel proceeded with its military onslaught in Rafah and, on Sunday, it launched airstrikes on a refugee camp that sparked a massive blaze in a tent camp, killing at least 45 Palestinians, more than half of them children, women and the elderly.

Global leaders voiced horror at the fire in a designated “humanitarian zone” where families uprooted by fighting elsewhere in Gaza had sought shelter, and urged the implementation of a World Court order for a halt to Israel’s assault.

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“For the first time at an EU meeting, in a real way, I’ve seen significant discussion on sanctions and ‘what if,’” said Martin. He added that there is “some distance between people articulating the need for a sanctions-based approach if Israel does not comply with the ICJ’s ruling to agreement in the Council meeting, given all of the different perspectives there.”

“But there is a lot of concern amongst member states in respect of what is a clear situation where the ICJ have ruled, made provisional orders and the EU has always upheld the independence of that Court and the need for nations to comply with it,” he said.

“There was a strong discussion on the provisional orders of the International Court of Justice,” Martin said, with “very clear views that Israel should adhere to those provisional orders to open the border crossing with Rafah and cease its military operations in Rafah.”

“International humanitarian law, adherence to human rights, is the raison d’etre of the European Union and events now are really putting that issue into sharp focus, particularly given the attack last night when so many innocent people were killed.”

Moreover, Irish Prime Minister, Simon Harris, has emphasised that sanctions against Israel should not be “off the table”. He called the air strike on Rafah “utterly unimaginable and morally indefensible.”

During an interview on Ireland AM, he stated, “Overnight we have seen Israel attack a displaced person centre, a place where parents were told to flee with their children, and they bombed it.”

“In relation to sanctions, I don’t think anything can be off the table when it comes to Israel, particularly with what we’re seeing currently happening in Rafah now, when we’re seeing the international community being ignored, when we’re seeing international courts being ignored.”

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive, Gaza’s Health Ministry says. Israel launched its air and ground war after Hamas fighters attacked southern Israeli communities on 7 October, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Israel says it wants to root out Hamas fighters holed up in Rafah and rescue hostages it says are being held in the area.

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