French diplomat punches IDF soldier

Israel rejects EU criticism following Friday confrontation between IDF troops and European diplomats delivering aid to Palestinians whose illegal homes had been demolished • Israel: EU diplomats broke law, blatantly violated diplomatic codes of conduct.

French Diplomat Marion Castaing punches an Israeli soldier

French Diplomat Marion Castaing punches an Israeli soldier

elations between Israel and the European Union, already on the rocks after the latter decided to halt all cooperation with Jewish entities beyond the Green Line, hit another road bump over the weekend.

The European Union has asked Israel to explain why Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Friday confiscated a truckload of humanitarian aid intended for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

On Friday, Israeli soldiers seized tents and emergency aid that European diplomats had been trying to deliver to Palestinians in Khirbet al-Makhul whose homes were demolished last week.

A Reuters reporter saw soldiers throw stun grenades at a group of diplomats, aid workers and locals, and pull a French diplomat, Marion Castaing, out of a truck before driving it away.

“EU representatives have already contacted the Israeli authorities to demand an explanation and expressed their concern at the incident,” a statement issued by the spokesmen for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said on Saturday.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a response on Sunday, saying, “Israel rejects the one-sided announcement which was published by the spokespersons of HR Ashton and Commissioner Georgieva regarding the events in the Northern Jordan Valley. This announcement ignores the European diplomats’ blunt violation of the law, their disregard to a ruling of the Israeli court and their unnecessary provocation under the alleged pretext of humanitarian aid.”

“Diplomats are sent by their governments to be a bridge and not act as provocateurs. The European diplomats and their governments owe an explanation to this blatant violation of diplomatic codes of conduct. Israel has already made it clear that it will not accept this misconduct. Israel’s response will reflect the seriousness of these violations.”

Locals said Israeli soldiers demolished their houses, stables and a kindergarten in Khirbet al-Makhul on Monday after Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that they did not have proper building permits.

The IDF said security forces had tried to stop locals erecting tents in the area on Friday and locals and “foreign activists” had responded by throwing rocks. It said forces used non-lethal riot dispersal means after the rocks were thrown.

The IDF said it was looking into allegations that foreign diplomats had “abused their diplomatic privileges.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said a formal complaint might be filed with the French regarding Castaing.

“If [Castaing] did participate then a formal complaint will be filed because that is not the way diplomats behave,” Hirschson said.

Bedouins in Khirbet al-Makhul in the Jordan Valley say they have lived there for decades. Israel says they built structures there illegally without permits.

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