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EU diplomats manhandled by Israeli troops in West Bank

The European diplomats, who were trying to deliver emergency aid to the residents of a demolished Palestinian village, were manhandled by Israeli troops and their truck was seized by the IDF.

A Reuters reporter said Israeli soldiers threw sound grenades at a group of diplomats, aid workers and locals in an incident on Friday in the occupied West Bank.

A French female diplomat was than harshly pulled out the truck as the military took off in the vehicle. The truck had all the diplomats’ supplies inside, the reporter added.

"They dragged me out of the truck and forced me to the ground with no regard for my diplomatic immunity,"
Marion Castaing, French diplomat, told Reuters. “This is how international law is being respected here.”

French diplomat Marion Castaing lays on the ground after Israeli soldiers carried her out of her truck containing emergency aid, in the West Bank herding community of Khirbet al-Makhul, in the Jordan Valley September 20, 2013. (Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini)

The Khirbet al-Makhul was demolished on Monday after Israel's high court ruled that the village’s 120 residents didn’t have proper building permits.

Despite losing their homes and property, the inhabitants have refused to leave saying that their families have lived in the area for generations.

The Israeli military has since then been thwarting all international attempts to provide help for the people, who used to reside in Makhul.

On Tuesday and on Wednesday, the Red Cross was stopped from aiding the villagers as the soldiers ordered them to take down the tents that were erected for the villagers.

Diplomats from France, Britain, Spain, Ireland, Australia and the EU’s political office brought more supplies to the West bank on Friday.

But, as soon as they arrived, about a dozen Israeli army jeeps converged on them, with the troops ordering them not to unload their truck, Reuters reports. 

“It's shocking and outrageous. We will report these actions to our governments,”
an unnamed EU diplomat told the agency. “[Our presence here] is a clear matter of international humanitarian law. By the Geneva Convention, an occupying power needs to see to the needs of people under occupation. These people aren't being protected.”

Israeli soldiers scuffle with Palestinians near a truck loaded with items European diplomats wanted to deliver to locals in the West Bank herding community of Khirbet al-Makhul, in the Jordan Valley September 20, 2013. (Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini)

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement that Makhul has become the third Bedouin community to be demolished by the Israelis in the West Bank and adjacent Jerusalem municipality since August.

Palestinians accuse the Israeli authorities of progressively taking their historical lands, while the Jewish state claims the demolition of villages are aimed at ending “the spread of illegal building” by the Bedouin and “better integration of the Bedouins into Israeli society.”

Israel and Palestinian resumed direct peace talks in August after a three-year hiatus in negotiations. An unnamed EU diplomat stressed that “what the Israelis are doing is not helpful to the negotiations.”

“Under any circumstances, talks or not, they're obligated to respect international law,”
he added.

The assault on the diplomats is a huge “own goal” on the part of Israel and “even people who are sympathetic to Israel will find this treatment of European diplomats absolutely shocking and inexplicable,” human rights activist Peter Tatchell told RT.

“You would think that these countries [which saw their diplomats’ immunity violated] would protest in the strongest possible terms and withhold Israeli ambassadors in their countries before the foreign ministers and give them a proper dressing down, because this is no way to treat foreign diplomats. It defies all conventions and protocols between countries,” he stressed.

sraeli soldiers pull a Palestinian off a truck loaded with items European diplomats wanted to deliver to locals in the West Bank herding community of Khirbet al-Makhul, in the Jordan Valley September 20, 2013. (Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini)

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