Israel ambassador: 'To Ireland or the desert' comments do not represent Israeli policy

Israel Ambassador on government minister's 'to Ireland or the desert’ comments: “He's not representing the policy of the Government"
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

11.17 7 Nov 2023

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Israel ambassador: 'To Ireland...

Israel ambassador: 'To Ireland or the desert' comments do not represent Israeli policy

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

11.17 7 Nov 2023

Share this article

An Israeli Government official’s claim that Palestinians should ‘go to Ireland or the desert’ does not represent the country’s policy, the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland has told The Pat Kenny Show.

Last week Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said the Palestinian people “can go to Ireland or deserts”, adding, “The monsters in Gaza should find a solution by themselves”.

In an interview with the Times of Israel, he said that anyone who waves a Palestinian or Hamas flag “shouldn’t continue living on the face of the earth”.


He also suggested that dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza was one of the possibilities open to his government and defended the restriction of humanitarian aid to Gaza by saying: “We wouldn’t hand the Nazis humanitarian aid. There is no such thing as uninvolved civilians in Gaza.”

"Dismissed profoundly"

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Israel’s Ambassador to Ireland Dana Erlich rejected the comments.

“There's no point in commenting on that; that was dismissed profoundly,” she said.

“He's not representing the policy of the Government of Israel.”

Ms Erlich said the Heritage Minister was “suspended from all government meetings” after the quotes, insisting the controversy is “not something that we should invest our time”.

When it was put to her that the comments caused anger and upset in Ireland, Ms Erlich said: “Again, it's not something that I try to focus on”.

“His remarks were completely … we objected that, we said that that does not represent Israel and I think that focusing on that is dividing us or [preventing us] talking about the real issue and this is what Hamas is doing to us and to the Palestinians in Gaza.”

Emily Hand Emily Hand

Ambassador Erlich also called for the immediate release of all of the hostages taken by Hamas – including eight-year-old Irish girl Emily Hand.

“This is a tragic story and our hearts are with the family of eight-year-old Emily,” she said.

“We can only think of what they're going through and what she's going through for a month now, alone in Gaza after the horrors that she's seen on that day on October 7th.”

She said Emily is “assumed” to be alive and among the hostages.

“Unfortunately, we do not know their condition and there is no access for the Red Cross to visit them,” she said.

“There is no international appeal for those visits and this is why we need to have them released immediately.”


Ambassador Erlich also insisted her country does not want to remain in Gaza after the current assault.

That's despite Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinting that his government plans to control the enclave after its war against Hamas ends.

“That is not the ultimate goal,” she said. “We do not want to go back in Gaza.

“We disengaged from Gaza in 2005 in the hopes that we will have a peaceful neighbour next to us.”

Death toll

Yesterday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said more than 10,00 Palestinians had been killed since the Israeli bombardment began.

More than 4,000 children are among the dead.

Israel began its latest round of attacks after Hamas launched a major offensive on October 7th, killing 1,400 people in Israel and taking around 240 hostages back to Gaza.

Last night, a plan to fly the Palestinian flag over Dublin City Hall failed to get enough votes at Dublin city Council.

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