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23 May, 2018 13:43

Israeli govt minister tells EU: ‘Go to a thousand, thousand hells’

Israeli govt minister tells EU: ‘Go to a thousand, thousand hells’

Unhappy about EU calls to probe alleged Israeli police brutality against activists protesting the bloodshed on the Gaza border, Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said the EU could go "to a thousand thousand hells."

Steinitz was giving an interview to a local radio station when he said of the EU, "Let them go to a thousand thousand hells," as cited by Haaretz. His response followed the EU’s call for a “swift investigation” into the Israeli police’s violent crackdown on protesters in Haifa last Friday. They had been criticising the State of Israel for the high death toll at the border with Gaza.

The protests resulted in the serious injury of Jafar Farah, director of the Haifa-based NGO Mossawa, which champions the rights of Israeli-Arabs.

The Israeli minister said he wished to send “to hell the European Union which doesn't really represent the European nations.”

He slammed the EU as “an organization that no-one is leading and is less friendly to Israel than the European states themselves.” Steinitz’s stance was backed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan who, in a response to the EU’s demand for a swift investigation, said that “Israel, as the only democracy in the Middle East, does not need moralistic warning calls from a biased and obsessive body like the EU."

In the same interview Israel’s energy minister also slammed the EU for cementing its relationship with Iran and maintaining the Iran nuclear deal.

Farah, whose knee had been broken at a Friday protest night, was taken into custody together with other 20 activists. “When I was brought to the police station with my son, I found him on the floor covered in blood. When I asked the police officer, ‘Who gave you the right to treat my son this way?’ his response was to break my knee,” Farah said in an interview with Army Radio.

“In a democratic country, the leg of a detained demonstrator will not be broken,” Farah’s son, Basel, told the Army Radio.

The Israeli Justice Ministry had denied any police wrongdoing following the Friday demonstrations in Haifa. On Monday the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigation Department opened a probe into allegations of police brutality. As many as 21 activists of the more than 200 in attendance were arrested during the Friday night march.

Clashes between Israel and the EU have precedents. European Council President Donald Tusk, denounced the recent Gaza bloodshed where hundreds of Palestinian protesters were killed and injured in a letter sent to the European Council. 

The US decision to move its embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem raised many eyebrows in the EU, which warning against it well ahead of the opening. The bloc claimed this move could jeopardize the peace process in the region.

The EU has also confirmed its “clear, consolidated” position on Israel-Palestine, urging a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, insisting that Jerusalem has to be the “capital of both [states].”

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