Israel's military response to attacks and abductions from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon is overblown, illegal and reckless to civilian lives, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern told lawmakers Tuesday. "Israel has an absolute right to peace and security. But Israel is a strong military power," Ahern told the parliament's foreign affairs committee. "We share the belief within the EU that its military response in Gaza and in Lebanon has been harsh and disproportionate. "Israel has a legitimate right to defend its citizens, but this must not be at the expense of the lives and welfare of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. All military operations must be carried out in strict accordance with international law. And all parties must act on their responsibility to protect civilian lives. It has to be said that Israel is clearly failing to do so." The foreign minister blamed militants in Gaza and Lebanon with igniting the bloodshed by kidnapping Israeli soldiers, and called for their immediate release. "The action of Hezbollah in launching attacks across the border with Israel last week was cynically calculated to widen and deepen the conflict. It has brought tragedy and destruction upon the Lebanese people, again. It has also diverted the focus of attention from the continuing suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza," he said.