The IDF said it foiled an attempt Friday by Palestinians and EU diplomats to rebuild West Bank homes that were demolished earlier this week in accordance with a High Court of Justice ruling.
Dozens of Palestinians arrived at the site, which is near a training base for the IDF’s Kfir Brigade, accompanied by left-wing activists and several diplomats, and began construction on new structures.
The High Court had ruled that the homes in what Palestinians call Khirbet Al-Makhul were constructed illegally, without building permits, and the ramshackle buildings were demolished on Monday.
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.
Reuters reported a very different version of the events, saying that EU diplomats had been “manhandled” while attempting to deliver emergency aid supplies to the Palestinians who had lost their homes in the area.
The Reuters report claimed that a truck full of such emergency supplies was confiscated by the IDF.
The IDF said the truck contained building supplies for new homes.
According to the Reuters report, soldiers yanked a French diplomat 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,” diplomat Marion Fesneau-Castaing said.
The Israeli army and police did not immediately comment on the report.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said a formal complaint might be filed with the French over the diplomat’s involvement, reported the Associated Press. “If she did participate then a formal complaint will be filed because that is not the way diplomats behave,” he said.
The UN 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.”
An unnamed spokesman for the British Consulate General in Jerusalem said it was “concerned” at reports that the IDF had “prevented the affected community from receiving humanitarian assistance,” the BBC reported. The British media outlet further quoted the spokesman as saying: “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.”