President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins issued a statement on Monday, October 9 after Hamas militants launched a surprise major offensive in Israel on Saturday, October 7.

President Higgins wrote: “May I, as President of Ireland, lend my voice to those internationally that have called for an immediate end to the killing which has, since Saturday following Hamas’ attack on Israel and the response to it, included so many civilians, young people and children, as well as older members of families.

“Any attacks on innocent civilians, such as those horrific scenes witnessed at the Supernova music festival and elsewhere, are deeply reprehensible. Further attacks, and reprisals of the same degree, will lead to further loss of innocent life. Such actions will not lead to such a constructive approach as might achieve the necessary conditions for the co-existence of all in conditions of peace, for which we must all aspire.

“Diplomatic failure to meaningfully address a conflict, one that has been raised every year at the United Nations, is bearing a terrible fruit for all those involved. The absence of positive engagement has made a stone of the heart of so many. It should remind us that it is the responsibility of all of us to return and to engage with all of the sources of conflict, accepting the right of Israel to defend itself, and of Palestinian people to enjoy the rights to which they are entitled.

“Those international voices who have called for an end to the further loss of civilian life, for restraint, realise how difficult this is to achieve. Yet, if out of the worst of circumstances something is to be achieved, it requires an immediate urgent engagement by neighbours and the international bodies so as to achieve the ceasing of attacks on communities and their civilian infrastructure.

“Any response, and indeed the resolution to what is an ongoing conflict, one that has been neglected and is now manifesting itself with new horrific consequences, must be in accordance with international law, humanitarian needs and respect for the decisions of the United Nations, whom I would call upon to act with urgency.

“What the families of the civilians entrapped in these circumstances are going through must be of concern to us all. I join with the Irish Government in their concern for all of the civilians at risk in Israel and in Gaza and join in their call for a ceasing of the violence and the protection of the lives of innocent civilians.

“I send my deepest condolences to all of the families of the victims, and our thoughts at this time are, in particular, with the family of Kim Damti our fellow citizen.”

The Associated Press reported on Monday that around 700 people, including 73 soldiers, have been killed in Israel, and 493 people have been killed in Gaza, according to authorities on each side.