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Calls for British and Irish governments to join 'international efforts to restore calm, restraint and peace' in Middle East

The remains of a building destroyed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City on Wednesday. Picture by AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

THERE were calls for the British and Irish governments to join "international efforts to restore calm, restraint and peace" in the Middle East.

It comes amid the significant escalation of violence between Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military, which the United Nations said fears will become a "full-scale war".

In some of the most serious fighting since the 50-day war in 2014, Israel said more than 1,000 rockets have now been fired by Palestinian militants. Hundreds of air strikes have been carried out by Israel, destroying two tower blocks in Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday.

At least 53 Palestinians and six Israelis have been killed since Monday.

That includes 14 Palestinian children caught up in the conflict.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood last night called for the international community to respond to the "oppression of Palestinian people".

"The scenes of violence and the forced eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and across East Jerusalem are an affront to international law," he said.

"The international community has a moral responsibility to intervene to prevent the oppression of families who have lived in these communities for generations.

"The violence must come to an end immediately to save lives.

"The British and Irish governments must condemn the violence and join international efforts to restore calm, restraint, and peace in Jerusalem."

Sinn Féin MLA Emma Sheerin also called on the Irish government to act to end the deepening crisis in Jerusalem and Gaza.

Speaking in the Assembly yesterday, she said: "The international community and the Irish government must act to end this crisis and defend the rights of the Palestinian people.

"The Irish government must use its position on the UN Security Council to call for an urgent session to demand implementation of the UN resolutions on Jerusalem and occupied Palestine."

The Republic's Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney also called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

He said the Republic worked with "other like-minded countries" to insist on an emergency United Nations Security Council session.

"Increasing numbers of civilians are being killed and injured. We need ceasefire now," he said on Twitter.

It is understood the Republic's ambassador to Israel has been summoned to the Israeli Foreign Office over comments made by Mr Coveney over the escalating violence.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also urged leaders in Israel and Palestine to "step back from the brink" after the violence intensified.

He called for restraint and said the UK is alarmed at the mounting toll of civilian casualties.

"I am urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint," he said.

"The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties and we want to see an urgent de-escalation of tensions."

The latest upsurge in violence has been triggered by tensions in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A focal point was the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a holy site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, while there were also clashes over the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers in the Sheikh Jarrar neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.

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