Minister Ahern calls on Israel to guarantee fuel supplies for Gaza
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern TD, has called on Israel to guarantee fuel supplies for Gaza and to ensure that the UN can carry out its vital humanitarian work in the territory. Speaking during his visit to Kenya today, the Minister reiterated the Government’s grave concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He stated:
“The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) yesterday warned that it would have to suspend vital food distribution and rubbish disposal services if Israel did not end the blockade on fuel to Gaza. These supplies are funded by the European Union.
I understand that Israel last night agreed to allow several days’ supply of fuel into Gaza, for the power plant. This is welcome, but it does not resolve a very dangerous situation. It is becoming increasingly difficult for UNRWA to operate in these circumstances, which pose a very real threat to the health and welfare of families in Gaza.
I have called unambiguously on Israel to end the blockade on Gaza. I understand fully Israel’s security concerns. I condemn without reservation the rocket attacks from Gaza, and the recent attacks by Palestinian armed groups on the fuel depot. But isolating the people of Gaza is a form of collective punishment. It is not only unjust, it is politically counterproductive, and it will undermine the prospects for political progress in the Israeli – Palestinian negotiations.
I have had the issue raised with the Israeli Ambassador in Dublin this morning, as well as with our EU partners and the Commission. It is essential that Israel now guarantee security of supply of fuel to Gaza for electricity generation and for vehicles, including ambulances and other UNRWA vehicles.
Note for Editors:
Ireland is a strong supporter of UNRWA. The Government provided a total of €4.3 million in assistance to UNRWA in 2007.
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24 April 2008