20th Mar 2018

EU-Israel row over confrontation with diplomat

  • Israeli soldiers stopped EU delivery of humanitarian aid to a Palestinian village (Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

Israel has denounced EU reaction over a confrontation between European Union diplomats delivering humanitarian aid to Palestinians and Israeli soldiers sent to stop them.

A statement released by the Israeli foreign ministry on Sunday (22 September) says the EU diplomats and their governments “owe an explanation of this blatant violation of diplomatic codes of conduct” after a French diplomat struck an Israeli soldier in the face.

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"Israel has already made it clear that it will not accept this misconduct. Israel's response will reflect the seriousness of these violations," noted the foreign ministry.

Israeli soldiers on Friday were sent to stop the group of EU diplomats and aid workers from handing out tents and emergency aid to Palestinian Bedouin in the Israeli occupied Jordan Valley.

Israel had razed the village of 120 to the ground earlier in the week because they say the homes did not have proper building permits.

The residents said they had lived in the village for decades and refused to leave despite losing their homes.

French diplomat Marion Fesneau-Castaing was dragged out of the truck carrying the supplies, which was later driven away by an Israeli soldier.

"They dragged me out of the truck and forced me to the ground with no regard for my diplomatic immunity. This is how international law is being respected here,” she told Reuters.

She then stood up and struck a soldier on the chin with her fist.

A YouTube clip posted by the Jerusalem Post daily shows Fesneau-Castaing hitting the soldier. Another YouTube clip shows multiple acts of aggression committed by the soldiers against the group.

Several sound grenades were also tossed at the diplomats, aid workers, and Palestinians.

But Israel's foreign ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson told the AFP that Fesneau-Castaing had dropped to the ground herself.

"She was removed from the vehicle ... then she dropped herself onto the ground... nobody threw her on the floor," he said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Saturday said she wants Israel to provide an explanation about the incident.

“The EU deplores the confiscation of humanitarian assistance carried out by Israeli security forces yesterday in Khirbet al-Makhul,” she said in a statement.

She noted that EU representatives have already contacted the Israeli authorities to demand more details.

“The EU underlines the importance of unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and the applicability of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory,” she added.


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