The European Union demanded an accounting from the Israeli military Saturday on why it seized aid intended for Palestinians during a melee a day earlier between troops, Palestinians and foreign activists, including European diplomats.
The Israel Defense Forces said it confiscated a truck filled with building materials for new homes, meant to replace houses demolished by the army several days earlier following a court order that they were built illegally on a military training area in the West Bank.
A Reuters report, however, alleged that EU diplomats had been “manhandled” while attempting to deliver emergency aid supplies to the Palestinians who had lost their homes in the area.
Spokespersons for EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva released a statement Saturday saying Brussels was calling for an explanation from Israeli authorities.
“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 statement read. “The EU underlines the importance of unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and the applicability of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
According to the IDF Spokesperson, Palestinians at the scene Friday afternoon began hurling stones and physically beating the Israeli security forces that arrived. Soldiers used crowd-dispersing methods to break up the melee and three Palestinians were arrested.
Among those at the scene was French diplomat Marion Fesneau-Castaing.
According to the Reuters report, soldiers yanked her out of the truck before driving away with its contents. ”They dragged me out of the truck and forced me to the ground with no regard for my diplomatic immunity,” she said.
Video from the scene showed Fesneau-Castaing lying on the ground, and then pushing an IDF solider after being helped up.
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.
The French embassy declined comment to The Associated Press.
The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over the incident and calling upon Israeli authorities to “live up to their obligations as occupying power to protect those communities under their responsibility.”
Raphael Ahren and the Associated Press contributed to this report.