Irish President condemns UN smears, calls for Gaza ceasefire

Irish President condemns UN smears, calls for Gaza ceasefire
The Irish president's comments come as famine continues to spread across the Gaza Strip, particularly in the north with people reportedly dying of starvation.
2 min read
12 March, 2024
Irish President Michael D. Higgins condemned the 'campaign' against UN work in Gaza and reiterated calls for an immediate ceasefire [Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images]

Ireland's president has condemned what he called a "campaign" against the UN and reiterated calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza in a statement on Monday.

President Michael D. Higgins described the humanitarian situation in Gaza "a matter of life and death", and condemned Israel's blocking of aid.

He also slammed attempts to undermine the work of the UN in Gaza, echoing comments previously made by UNRWA chief Phillip Lazzarini at the UN General Assembly.

"The releasing of a propaganda campaign against the United Nations is a scandalous travesty against the little less than heroic efforts of all those involved on the frontline in Gaza," Higgins said.

He welcomed the decisions from Canada and Sweden to resume funding to UNRWA, as well as an EU initiative to €50 million funding to the agency.

The decision to resume funding for the agency follows Israeli accusations against numerous UNRWA staff members who they say took part in Hamas' 7 October attack without providing public proof of their claims.

UNRWA has accused Israel of coercing agency employees into making false confessions by way of threats and physical violence.

Canada, which will make a payment of C$25 million to the agency in April, said that it had been reassured after receiving an interim report from the UN investigation of Israel's allegations.

Israeli restrictions have severely hampered the delivery of vital supplies into Gaza, while a siege on the enclave has starved the territory's population, with at least 25 children and elderly people dying of starvation in recent days.

Higgins reiterated calls for an immediate ceasefire to ensure the entry of greater quantities of aid into the enclave and provide the opportunity for a lasting peace settlement to take hold.

"It is past time that Ireland was joined by all of those countries of the European Union and beyond in calling for an immediate ceasefire to be agreed and for this most vital humanitarian aid to be provided to those so in need of it," he said.

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He also condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's insistence on a ground assault on Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah, as well as the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

"It is time for the world to put an end to this loss of life, to remember our shared humanity, listen to the peacemakers and commit all of it efforts to bringing this crisis to an end and ensuring an appropriate long term settlement is reached," he said.

Since 7 October, Israel's war on Gaza has killed 31,184 Palestinians, with a further 72,889 injured.