PM Netanyahu with French President Nicolas Sarkozy 311.
(photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)
Jerusalem on Tuesday rebuffed sharp French criticism of an early-Monday IAF raid
on a Hamas police compound near Gaza City that lightly injured a local employee
of the French consulate living a few hundred meters from the
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French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said at his
daily press briefing in Paris Tuesday that the head of France’s Gaza consular
branch and members of his family had been injured in the airstrike. A Hamas
policeman was killed.
The IAF raid came in response to a Kassam rocket
that had been fired into Israel on Sunday.
“France strongly deplores the
consequences of this air strike,” Valero said.
“While it is committed to
Israel’s security, France reaffirms the urgent need to avoid any harm to
civilians. This imperative was reaffirmed to the Israeli
The spokesman said France maintained a presence in Gaza to
support the civilian population, and was represented there through a consular
branch and a cultural center.
The airstrike and its diplomatic aftermath
came just days after an embarrassing light was shone on Israeli-Franco relations
when French President Nicolas Sarkozy was overheard calling Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu a “liar.”
According to Israel’s clarification
regarding Monday’s airstrike, the windows of the home of Majdi Shakoura, a Gaza
resident who holds a French passport, were shattered by the blast, and he and
another family member were lightly hurt by flying shards.
obviously sorry for the light injuries incurred by the family, but the target of
the attack, quite far away from their home, was a Hamas cell responsible for
shooting rockets on Israeli civilians who suffer much more serious injuries –
and even death – when Hamas rockets are fired,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman
One Israeli official wondered aloud about the
“disproportional nature” of the French response.
“Thousands of Israelis
suffer injuries that are similar or much worse during rocket attacks from Gaza,
and they don’t draw the same sympathetic remarks from the French that were
elicited by this single family, who suffered very light injuries,” the official
In October, 52 rockets and six mortar shells were fired into
Israel. The IDF said it would not tolerate continued rocket fire against Israeli
cities and that Hamas would be held responsible for such attacks.
Katz contributed to this report.