UK & World News

  • 20 September 2013, 20:59

Israeli Troops 'Rough Up' EU Diplomats

A French woman diplomat has told how she was dragged from a truck and thrown to the ground by Israeli soldiers as she attempted to deliver emergency aid to Palestinians.

The soldiers threw sound grenades at aid workers and European diplomats, before manhandling them, then seizing their truck piled with tents and aid and driving it away.

The French diplomat Marion Castaing said: "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."

The diplomats from France, Britain, Spain, Ireland, Australia and the European Union's political office, were trying to deliver the equipment to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank at Khirbet Al-Makhul, whose home were demolished this week.

The army flattened their ramshackle houses, stables and a kindergarten on Monday after Israel's high court 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 high court decision.

A spokeswoman said: "At the site, Palestinians and the foreign activists violently objected, throwing stones and striking law enforcement officers.

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

However, reporters from the Reuters news agency who were present at the scene said they saw no stone throwing.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said a formal complaint might be filed with the French over the diplomat's involvement.

"If she did participate then a formal complaint will be filed because that is not the way diplomats behave," he said.

Israeli soldiers stopped the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delivering emergency aid on Tuesday. 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, arrived on Friday with more supplies.

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

He said: "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."

Israel has destroyed more than 500 property owned by Palestinians in the West Bank and mostly Arab east Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 862 people, according to the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.