Angry Palestinians mob French minister's convoy during Gaza visit
Angry about comments by French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, including remarks about abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a crowd of Palestinians mobbed the diplomat’s car convoy as she toured the Gaza Strip on Friday.
AP - A crowd of furious Palestinian protesters tried to block the French foreign minister on her way into the Gaza Strip on Friday, jumping on her vehicle, lying on the road and then later trailing her for the duration of her brief visit to Gaza.
Dozens of protesters, relatives of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, surrounded Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie’s convoy and tried to block her passage through the Erez Crossing from Israel.
They were angry about comments made by Alliot-Marie the day before in support of Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier captured in a cross-border raid by Hamas militants and held in Gaza since 2006. Schalit is an Israeli-French dual national.
Alliot-Marie made no public statement Thursday after meeting with Schalit’s parents in Jerusalem, but the soldier’s father, Noam Schalit, said afterwards that the minister had called on Hamas to allow the Red Cross to visit his son for the first time. He referred to his son’s capture as a “war crime,” a comment that appears to have been attributed by the Palestinians to the French foreign minister.
Hamas police eventually dispersed the protesters and allowed her through. But more protesters gathered outside a United Nations office in Gaza City that was her first stop in the Palestinian territory, and later followed her to a nearby hospital, pelting her motorcade with eggs and shoes.
Referring to the comments attributed to Alliot-Marie, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the statements reflected a “total bias toward Israel” and ignored the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. “They are the true prisoners of war,” he said.
In keeping with the policy of the European Union, which considers Hamas a terror organization, Alliot-Marie did not meet with Hamas officials during her half-day visit.