Welsh Government criticised for stance on Gaza conflict
An MS who has called for humanitarian aid to be sent to the Gaza Strip has criticised the Trefnydd for claiming that international affairs are outside the Welsh Government’s remit.
Mabon ap Gwynfor MS made an impassioned plea in the Senedd on Tuesday (October 24) to Lesley Griffiths MS.
He asked that humanitarian aid be delivered to people in Gaza who have been hit by devastating Israeli air strikes in retaliation to Hamas militants who launched an attack on Israel on October 7.
Critics have accused Israel of indiscriminately killing civilians and committing war crimes by cutting off essential supplies like food, water and fuel.
Mr ap Gwynfor said although there is “no justification” for the “atrocities” Hamas has carried out against innocent Israelis, it doesn’t justify “collectively punishing the whole population of Gaza”.
He said: “Killing innocent civilians will not make Hamas disappear, as is the stated intention of the Israeli Government, but will instead create a generation of Palestinians who will collectively suffer acute trauma with many wanting to avenge their loved one’s deaths. It will only perpetuate the bloody cycle of death and destruction.”
Speaking during the Senedd’s business statement, the Plaid Cymru MS referred to other instances in which the Welsh Government had previously arranged for humanitarian aid to reach conflict zones and regions of need.
He said: “I understand that the Government here secured humanitarian aid for Palestine in previous conflicts. So, can we have an urgent statement from Government, setting out what humanitarian support the Government can provide to the people of Gaza, and an assurance that the Government here is using all of its powers in order to call for a ceasefire in that part of the world as a matter of urgency?”
Ms Griffiths responded: “I can assure you that Welsh Government is taking the steps to which you refer. I know both the First Minister and the Minister for Social Justice have really reached out to our faith groups here to see what more we can do to support them.
“Obviously, international affairs is not a devolved matter, but I’m sure we all watch with absolute horror as these scenes unfold before us on our television screens every evening.”
Following the exchange, Mr ap Gwynfor told Nation.Cymru he was “bitterly disappointed” with the Trefnydd’s response and said there was “no reason” why the Welsh Government can’t play a part in contributing aid to the people of Gaza.
He said: “There is a real fear that this conflict could escalate even further as each party urges allies to get involved, and the long history of this ongoing conflict tells us that this has already happened on too many occasions already.
“The International Community must speak with one voice and demand an immediate ceasefire and arrange that the humanitarian aid required for the people of Gaza is delivered directly.
“I was bitterly disappointed by the Trefnydd’s response, claiming that international affairs is outside of the Welsh Government’s remit.
“The Welsh Government has previously arranged for humanitarian aid to reach conflict zones and other regions of need, and there is no reason why the Welsh Government cannot play a part in ensuring that Wales contributes to the aid required by the people of Gaza right now.
“They should also use whatever influence they have by pressing on the UK Government to condemn the collective punishment inflicted on the people of Gaza and demand an immediate ceasefire, while also demanding that Hamas release their hostages and recognise the State of Israel.
“Peace must prevail, and the first step towards that is an immediate ceasefire and the delivery of aid.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The First Minister has strongly condemned the appalling attacks carried out by Hamas and expressed his deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
“He has called on the international community to come together to work again for a lasting peace.”
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