International community can only have confidence in independent inquiry into Israeli storming of aid boats

I welcome the fact that we are to have a debate on the situation in Gaza in the Seanad tomorrow evening. All reasonable persons would agree that what occurred yesterday morning was most shocking and a despicable act, an attack on a humanitarian mission in international waters.

I believe it was an illegal act, carried out with excessive and grossly disproportionate force. I cannot understand how Israel which seeks the support and respect of the international community can stand over the statement made yesterday by an Israeli army spokesperson to the effect that, “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Anybody who believes that has virtually placed himself or herself beyond the potential for having a reasonable discussion on what should pass for acceptable action at international level. It is vitally important that there be an independent inquiry into what occurred. I do not accept what I heard an American spokesperson say today, that it was within the bounds of the Israeli Government to conduct such an inquiry.

That clearly cannot be the case in order for the international community to have any confidence that an independent inquiry which is urgently required will take place, not least given the presence of Irish citizens, the safety of some of whom we are still not certain about. I urge the Minister for Foreign Affairs to continue his vigorous response to what occurred yesterday. He should press for an independent inquiry to be held immediately at international level.