Northern Ireland

Irish Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney accuses Israel of behaving like ‘a rogue state’ over Rafah

Simon Coveney will also travel to Korea (Brian Lawless/PA)
Irish Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney has slammed Israel for the latest military action in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. (Brian Lawless/PA)

THE Irish Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney has accused Israel of “behaving like a rogue state” following the latest round of military action in Rafah.

With a normal population of around 250,000, the southern Gaza city now holds approximately 1.5 million people as Israel’s ground operation has displaced much of the population.

On Tuesday, officials stated that Israel and Hamas were making progress towards a ceasefire deal that would free hostages still held in the Gaza strip.

The fighting is now in its fifth month after Hamas fighters slaughtered around 1,200 people in southern Israel and taking around 250 captive on October 7.

Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Feb.10, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Feb.10, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair) (Fatima Shbair/AP)

Retaliation from Israel ever since has killed an estimated 28,000 people in Gaza, with 70% of them women and minors, according to the Hamas run health ministry.

Around 80% of the population has also been displaced, starting a humanitarian crisis.



Criticising Israel’s ongoing campaign, Mr Coveney told RTÉ it was not acceptable to “behave like a monster to defeat a monster.

“We are witnessing Israel behaving like a like a rogue state, quite frankly,” he said.

“They’re ignoring the International Court of Justice. They seem now to even be ignoring their closest allies in countries like the United States and the UK, who are clearly calling for restraint, looking for the basis of a ceasefire, wanting to work with Israel to bring an end to this savagery that is continuing in Gaza.

“I think those of us who contribute to international calls for a ceasefire need to intensify those calls now,” he said.

Mr Coveney said that Ireland had been using its voice internationally to build a consensus within the European Union to stop the “madness”

“It is about Ireland behaving as a member of the international community in a way that maximises pressure and convinces people of what has been the Irish position for months now,” he said.

“And the truth is that the European position has effectively moved towards the Irish position over the last number of weeks. There are very few countries now not calling for a ceasefire.”

This was dismissed as “weasel words” by People Before Profit deputy leader Richard Boyd Barett, who said the Republic had failed to impose a single sanction.

The Tánaiste Micheál Martin said the Republic and other European countries would continue to press for the end of this “horrible war”.

Calling the ground invasion of Gaza “absolutely unacceptable,” he said those in Rafah were trapped.

“There is nowhere else for these people to go. The level of death and destruction and trauma visited upon families within Gaza is at a level that I think most people across the world are abhorred and really repulsed by,” he said.

On Monday he had also claimed that continuing to target Rafah would be a war crime.

Israel’s ambassador in Ireland Dana Erlich said the latest action was part of the effort to bring back all hostages and to eliminate Hamas.

“This is what we are doing in a very calculated systematic way, it’s not a decision taken lightly or made quickly,” she said.

“We are doing it under international law, making sure to minimise civilian casualties.”

Israel and Hamas are making progress towards a deal that aims to bring about a ceasefire and free hostages held in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, officials have said (Hatem Ali/AP)
Destruction in Rafah after the Israeli bombardment Israel and Hamas are making progress towards a deal that aims to bring about a ceasefire and free hostages held in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, officials have said (Hatem Ali/AP) (Hatem Ali/AP)