Israel rejects EU version of altercation with soldiers in West Bank

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel rejected the European Union’s characterization of an altercation in the West Bank between Israeli soldiers and a European diplomat as well as foreign activists.

The EU’s statement about Friday’s incident “ignores the European diplomats’ blunt violation of the law, their disregard of a ruling of the Israeli court and their unnecessary provocation under the alleged pretext of humanitarian aid,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Diplomats are sent by their governments to be a bridge and not act as provocateurs.”


In the incident, European diplomats and activists were setting up tents in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Makhoul, where Israeli officials razed several illegally built homes earlier in the week.

According to a Reuters report, French diplomat Marion Fesneau-Castaing was pulled out of a truck by Israeli soldiers, who drove away in the vehicle. The diplomat was captured on film punching an Israeli soldier in the face.

The European Union said the truck was filled with emergency aid for the Palestinians whose homes had been razed after an Israeli court found they were on IDF training grounds. The Israeli military said the truck contained materials to build new illegal homes on the property.

In its statement on Saturday, the EU said it “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.”

Israel is considering declaring Fesneau-Castaing a persona non-grata, which would involve stripping her of her diplomatic immunity and banishing him from Israel, according to Haaretz.

“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,” the Foreign Ministry statement concluded.