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Israel-Ireland relations take another dive over Gaza war, PM statements

Israel's Foreign Ministry has summoned Ireland's ambassador over Prime Minister Leo Varadkar saying that nine-year-old hostage Emily Hand was "lost and found" when she was freed from Hamas captivity.
People pass a pro-Palestinian mural on the Republican Falls Road in Belfast on October 23, 2023. Northern Ireland may be thousands of miles from the Middle East but signs of the current heightened conflict can be seen on the streets of the British province. Palestinian and Israeli flags flutter in pro-Irish and pro-UK neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland, tapping into its own history of conflict and division that still affects everyday life despite a 1998 peace deal that largely ended violence. (Photo by Paul

On Monday, Ireland’s ambassador to Israel failed to attend a Knesset committee discussion on crimes perpetrated Oct. 7 by Hamas against Israeli women. Sonya McGuinness' absence reflected growing tensions between the two countries against the backdrop of Irish criticism of Israel's war in the Gaza Strip.

The latest skirmish between the countries started a week ago, when nine-year-old Irish-Israeli Emily Hand was released from Hamas captivity. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar posted on X, "This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief. Our prayers have been answered."

Varadkar’s choice of words and his lack of reference to Hamas and kidnapping sparked enormous anger in Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen was furious. "Mr. Prime Minister, it seems you have lost your moral compass and need a reality check!" he wrote on X.

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