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Irish government 'should expel Israeli diplomats' over Gaza attacks

Israeli police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest outside the US embassy in Jerusalem. Picture by Mahmoud Illean, Associated Press
Staff Reporter

THE Irish government should expel Israeli diplomats in the wake of continued attacks in Gaza, Sinn Féin has said.

Israeli soldiers have shot and killed at least 52 Palestinians and left another 1,200 injured during mass protests along the Gaza border, health officials said.

Yesterday was the deadliest day in the region since a devastating 2014 cross-border war, and cast a shadow over the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

In a show of anger fuelled by the embassy move, Palestinian protesters set fire to tyres and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border.

Later, Israeli forces opened fire from tanks, sending protesters fleeing for cover.

The UN human rights chief said on Twitter that "Israeli live fire in Gaza must stop now", and demanded respect for human life.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein decried the "shocking killing of dozens" and the injury of hundreds by Israeli forces in the Palestinian areas. Mr Zeid said the international community needs to ensure justice for the victims.

He added on the UN human rights office's Twitter feed that perpetrators of "outrageous human rights violations" must be held to account.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald yesterday called on the Irish government to expel Israeli diplomats from the Republic and to formally recognise the state of Palestine.

"The Palestinian people need our solidarity now," she said.

"This could well be one of the bloodiest episodes in their tragic history and Ireland must take the lead among nations in saying that there can be no impunity or indemnity for state violence directed at peaceful protest."

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said the attacks on Gaza were "deplorable",

"It would seem that the USA Government have walked off the pitch when it comes to diplomacy in the Middle East," he said.

"Therefore, it is imperative that the European Union step in and address the diplomatic and humanitarian void to end the bloodshed inflicted upon Gazans."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he was "profoundly shocked" by the latest attacks on Gaza.

"I am gravely concerned that the use of force seems disproportionate to the reported threat, and I reiterate that an independent investigation is urgently needed, as called for by the UN Secretary-General," he said.

"It is essential that Israeli forces show restraint, if this tragic death toll is not to climb even higher."

A protest against Israel is to be held in Belfast on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs during the 1948 Palestine War.

The march, organised by the Belfast branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and Trade Union Friends of Palestine, is to begin at Belfast School of Art at 2.30pm.

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