Varadkar: Solidarity for Israel will fall apart if it goes too far in Gaza

Smoke rises from an explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes on the border between Egypt and Rafah, Gaza Strip (Hatem Ali/AP/PA)
Smoke rises from an explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes on the border between Egypt and Rafah, Gaza Strip (Hatem Ali/AP/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said international solidarity for Israel will dissipate if it “goes too far” in its response to recent attacks by Hamas.

On Saturday, militant group Hamas sent fighters across the border of Gaza and fired thousands of rockets into Israel.

In retaliation, Israel has sealed the Gaza Strip off from food, fuel, and other supplies as the war’s death toll rose to nearly 1,600 on both sides.

Israel-Hamas conflict
People take part in a Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration near the Israeli Embassy (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Mr Varadkar said he was horrified at the situation in the region.

“I’m just really horrified at what we’re seeing happening in Israel and Palestine, particularly the targeting of civilians, the killing of women and children and the taking of hostages,” he told RTE.

Mr Varadkar said Israel had a right to defend itself from “enemies”, but that any response must be proportionate.

“From Ireland’s point of view, we are saying to Israel, that, yes, you have a right to defend yourself, you’re surrounded by enemies who want to end your existence, but any response must be proportionate,” he said.

He added: “There’s a lot of solidarity internationally for Israel at the moment. I believe that will fall apart if Israel goes too far in terms of its actions in Gaza.

“And there’s a risk then of violence flaring up in the West Bank and Lebanon other places. So we’re very much calling for restraint.”

Israel-Hamas conflict
People attending a vigil in support of Israel (Lucy North/PA)

The Taoiseach also expressed his support for the family of 22-year-old Kim Damti, who has been unaccounted for in Israel since the surprise attack was launched on Saturday.

Ms Damti was attending a music festival near the Gaza border when gunmen arrived at the site.

“We’re particularly concerned for an Irish-Israeli citizen, Kim Damti, we don’t know yet whether or not she’s still alive,” he said.

“We certainly hope she is and will help in any way that we can. I heard her mother speak several times now, I don’t think anyone’s heart could not go out to a family worried in the way they are.

“And one thing Hamas has done is not just attack the people of Israel but also citizens of many other countries as well.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said Ireland has a long-standing commitment to supporting humanitarian aid and development projects in the occupied Palestinian territory.