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Tánaiste Visits Gaza, Renews Call for Lifting of Blockade

GAZA, 27 January 2012 – The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore, T.D., has again urged Israel to change its policy in relation to Gaza and end its blockade of the territory.

Commenting while visiting Gaza at the start of his current trip to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, the Tánaiste stated:

“It is dispiriting to see how little real change there has been in Gaza since the end of the Israeli military operation against Gaza three years ago.”

“What I have seen today has reinforced my belief that it is utterly unjust as well as counterproductive to subject Gaza to these restrictions, to choke off its economy, and to reduce its people to a state of complete dependency.”

“I will be raising the situation in Gaza when I meet with Israeli government representatives in the coming days and reiterating the need to end the blockade and make progress towards a comprehensive peace agreement. This ultimately offers the most effective means of addressing the serious problems and inequities which the people of Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian territories currently face“

“I want to pay tribute to the people of Gaza whose spirit remains undiminished by the conditions they are compelled to endure. It has been a particular pleasure to meet with many young people in Gaza today and hear how they only wish to be given the opportunity to pursue their education and to create some sort of decent future for themselves in Gaza.”

The Tánaiste also met earlier today with Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner General of UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency) which facilitated the Tánaiste’s visit.

“Ireland has always been a very strong supporter of UNRWA, which plays a vital role in providing essential services for the people of Gaza and for Palestinian refugees across the region. I paid tribute to the dedication of the Agency’s staff who work in the most difficult circumstances, at times at great risk to themselves, providing education, health and other basic services to the people of Gaza.  Ireland is providing €12 million to support this work by UNWRWA over the three years 2010 – 2012.  I have assured the Commissioner General that he can count on our continued strong support in the future.”