Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
Irish Prime Minister Leo VaradkarPA via Reuters

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Tuesday launched a tirade against Israel, accusing the country of becoming "blinded by rage" as it doubles down on plans to launch a ground offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Speaking to lawmakers in the Irish parliament and quoted by CNN, Varadkar said it was "very clear" to him that Israel is "is not listening to any country in the world," even the United States.

"They [Israel] have become blinded by rage. And they are going to, I believe, make the situation much worse for their own security in the long term by going down the path they are going," the Irish Prime Minister charged.

Varadkar said that an Israeli ground offensive on the border city of Rafah "should not happen," adding, "There is a serious risk of a massacre occurring in Rafah if a ground assault were to occur."

Varadkar caused an uproar in November, after he said that nine-year-old Emily Hand, a dual resident of Ireland and Israel who was freed from Hamas captivity, “was lost [and] has now been found and returned.

However, no mention was made of the fact that Hand was held by Hamas terrorists for 50 days, or of the attack they perpetrated in Israel on October 7 when they abducted Hand and more than 200 other people.

President Isaac Herzog later responded to Varadkar’s comments and said that "the statement by the Prime Minister of Ireland regarding the release of Emily Hand was unacceptable. Emily was not lost. Emily was not out for a walk and lost her way. Emily was kidnapped at gunpoint by monstrous and vile murderers, and was held in captivity without any connection with her family, with the world, not even with the Red Cross."

Relations between Israel and Ireland have been tense in recent years. In May of 2021, then-Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney decried Israel’s counter-terror operations in the Gaza Strip as “brutal”, and said Israel “should be condemned”.

The Israeli government subsequently summoned the Irish ambassador for clarifications following Coveney’s comments.

That same month, Ireland’s government supported a parliamentary motion condemning the “de facto annexation of Palestinian land by Israel”.

In 2019, the Irish parliament approved a law promoting a boycott of Judea and Samaria products.