Tánaiste announces €13m aid package for Palestinian people following Gaza hospital blast

Tánaiste announces €13m aid package for Palestinian people following Gaza hospital blast

TÁNAISTE Micheál Martin has this evening announced a €13m aid package for the Palestinian people.

It comes after a blast at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, which the Palestinian Ministry of Health says claimed 471 lives.

Both sides have blamed the other for the explosion, which occurred at around 7pm local time on Tuesday.

Hamas said the hospital was hit during an Israeli air strike, while the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed the blast was the result of a misfired rocket launched by a militant Palestinian group in Gaza.

Ahead of this evening's funding announcement, Mr Martin said the rising death toll in the conflict was 'horrifying'.

"I am appalled by the strike on al-Ahli hospital and the deaths of hundreds of patients, staff and civilians taking shelter," he said.

"The full facts of what happened must be established and those responsible must be held to account.

"The rising toll of civilian casualties and civilian suffering — in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories — since Hamas' brutal attack on October 7 is horrifying."

IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari claimed Palestinian militants were responsible for the blast at al-Ahli hospital (Image: GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Martin, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, announced the Palestine funding after echoing calls from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the establishment of aid corridors.

The package includes €10m for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides essential services to Palestine refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Meanwhile, €3m has been allocated to the Occupied Palestinian Territories Humanitarian Fund managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

The funding brings Ireland's financial support for the people of Palestine in 2023 to €29m.

'Extremely vulnerable people'

Announcing the funding, the Tánaiste reiterated calls for a ceasefire.

"We are witnessing tragic and shocking events in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in the aftermath of the heinous attack by Hamas on Israel," said Mr Martin.

"I have said repeatedly that there should be a humanitarian ceasefire to meet the urgent basic needs of the people in Gaza.

"It is essential that humanitarian relief is provided to those who need it.

"This funding from Ireland will help the UN and others provide essential support to extremely vulnerable people, in particular those in Gaza who are dealing with acute and severe challenges.

"Ireland is a longstanding supporter of the critical work undertaken by UNRWA with and on behalf of Palestine refugees, and we remain firmly committed in our political and financial support to the Agency in these deteriorating circumstances."

File photo: Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin (Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie)

He added: "Providing €3m in assistance to the Occupied Palestinian Territories Humanitarian Fund will also address the escalating humanitarian needs by enabling rapid deployment of aid, particularly in life-saving sectors that have been hit hardest by the current conflict including health, shelter, food security and protection."

Dr Ashraf Al-Qadra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said on Wednesday that 471 people died in the blast at al-Ahli hospital.

He added that the total number of Palestinian fatalities was 3,478, of which 70 per cent were children, women and the elderly.

Around 1,400 Israelis were killed in Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, with the IDF saying 199 people taken hostage by Hamas remain captive in Gaza.