ollective punishment" of those living in Gaza last week
ies Israel can't go after Hamas at all", a view and definition that he does not share. Labour party leader Ivana Bacik asked that the Government brief the opposition parties on the plight of Irish citizens affected and also on attempts at a European level to secure a ceasefire. Mr Varadkar said that he would speak to Tánaiste Micheál Martin as he thinks this could be arranged, although noted the sensitivity around details on specific cases. Independent TD Catherine Connolly also praised the Taoiseach for having "shown leadership" in "calling out what's happening in relation to Israel", albeit in a "belated" manner. However, she urged Mr Varadkar to do more. Mr Varadkar responded that anyone watching social media is seeing a large number of children being killed and many of them are "pretty thin, malnourished". He praised aid workers as "real heroes", but expressed his "enormous fears" of an escalation throughout the region. Later, Mr Varadkar said that the Government will not be "banning any national flags or any national symbols". He was responding to concerns expressed by People Before Profit TDs over what they said were moves to suppress support for Palestine in other EU member states. However, he expressed concern about rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and "the dehumanisation of the Palestinian people" in discussions of the violence in Gaza. "I believe in free speech, I believe in freedom of assembly", he said. "And I believe in the right to engage in peaceful protest". He said that "any restriction on any of that needs to be rare and needs to be fully justifiable and warranted". "It's not this Government's policy to ban or discourage pro-Palestinian marches, nor will we be doing so. The same applies to pro-Israeli marches," Mr Varadkar added. More stories on
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