EU calls on Israel to explain IDF 'mistreatment' of diplomats in West Bank

Israel is upset over the way diplomats acted in the incident, particularly the striking of an IDF officer.

By REUTERS
September 22, 2013 00:44
4 minute read.
EU diplomat strikes IDF soldier in Jordan Valley, September 20, 2013

EU diplomat strikes IDF soldier 370. (photo credit: Screenshot)

 
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The European Union demanded that Israel explain the IDF mistreatment of some European diplomats who went with aid organizations to deliver tents to Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley.

The homes of the Palestinians were destroyed by Israel on Monday morning in compliance with a High Court of Justice order.



The violence occurred as the IDF pulled a french diplomat and Palestinians out of a truck with new tent supplies for the Palestinian families, so they could confiscate it.

Photographs from the incident show the french diplomat on the ground, after she was pulled from the truck.



The Foreign Ministry on Saturday night sent The Jerusalem Post an 11-second video clip in which the French diplomat can be seen punching a soldier in the face once she gets up from the ground.

But a Reuters reporter saw soldiers on Friday throw sound grenades at a group of diplomats, aid workers and Palestinians.

A seven minute video posted on YouTube shows multiple incidents in which the IDF acted violently toward foreigners and Palestinians during the events.

French EU diplomat filmed striking IDF soldier, September 20, 2013

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Saturday, “The EU deplores the confiscation of humanitarian assistance carried out by Israeli security forces yesterday in Khirbet al-Makhul."

“EU representatives have already contacted the Israeli authorities to demand an explanation and expressed their concern at the incident. The EU underlines the importance of unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and the applicability of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory,” Ashton said.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson, the French Foreign Ministry has spoken with Israel’s ambassador to France over the incident. There was also a conversation between the EU and Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Rafi Schutz, Hirschson said.

The incident is not over, Hirschson said. Israel is upset over the way diplomats acted in the incident, particularly the striking of an officer, he said.

Diplomats, he said, “are sent to countries to build bridges, not act as provocateurs.”

But French diplomat Marion Castaing described for Reuters how the IDF mistreated her.

“They dragged me out of the truck and forced me to the ground with no regard for my diplomatic immunity,” Castaing said.

“This is how international law is being respected here,” she said, covered with dust.

Locals said Khirbet Al-Makhul was home to about 120 people. The army demolished their ramshackle houses, stables and a kindergarten on Monday after the High Court of Justice ruled that they did not have proper building permits.

Despite losing their property, the inhabitants have refused to leave the land where, they say, their families have lived for generations along with their flocks of sheep.

The Israeli army said on Friday that security forces had tried to prevent tents from being erected in area, in accordance with the court decision.

“At the site, Palestinians and the foreign activists violently objected, throwing stones and striking law enforcement officers,” a military spokeswoman said.

“Reports that foreign diplomats abused their diplomatic privileges are currently being reviewed, and if required, complaints will be filed with the relevant authorities.”

The French diplomat jabbed a soldier in the face after picking herself up off the ground. Reuters reporters at the scene said they saw no stone throwing or foreign activists.

Israeli soldiers stopped the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delivering emergency aid on Tuesday and on Wednesday ICRC staff managed to put up some tents but the army forced them to take the shelters down.

Diplomats from France, Britain, Spain, Ireland, Australia and the European Union’s political office, turned up on Friday with more supplies.

As soon as they arrived, about a dozen Israeli army jeeps converged on them, and soldiers told them not to unload their truck.

“It’s shocking and outrageous. We will report these actions to our governments,” said one EU diplomat, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

In scuffles between soldiers and locals, several villagers were detained. An elderly Palestinian man fainted and was taken for medical treatment to a nearby ambulance.

A spokesman at the British Consulate General in Jerusalem said London was “seriously concerned” by the Makhul demolitions and by the subsequent refusal to let villagers receive aid.

“We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our concerns over such demolitions, which we view as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, as harmful to the peace process, and as contrary to international humanitarian law,” he said.

Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi wrote a letter to France’s consul general in which she called on his country to hold Israel accountable for its actions.

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