Friday, January 21, 2011

French FM mobbed in Gaza over misquoted Shalit comments

GAZA CITY (Ma'an/AFP) -- Families of prisoners gathered in protest on Friday, throwing shoes and eggs at the car of French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie as she arrived in Gaza via the Erez crossing in the north.

Carrying signs reading "Get out of Gaza" they stopped her car shortly after it passed through a Hamas checkpoint in the northern town of Beit Hanoun, surrounding it and hammering on the sides with their fists.

The protest was over a statement which was mistakenly attributed to the French minister when she met with the parents of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in Jerusalem a day earlier.

At the meeting, father Noam Shalit asked Alliot-Marie to press the European Union to "condemn as a war crime" the detention of his son, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

However, shortly afterward, Israel's public radio posted a story on its Arabic-language website mistakenly quoting Alliot-Marie as saying the European Union "must condemn the war crime that Hamas is committing by keeping Gilad Shalit in captivity."

As the demonstrators shoved toward the car, two children, terrified and crying, were flung to the ground floor in front of the wheels of the lead vehicle convoy of white 4x4 jeeps, and stayed there for several minutes before being hauled away by their families.

Nearby, one of the protesters shouted slogans through a loudhailer, angrily denouncing the "war crimes" statement, while another was holding up a large picture of Alliot-Marie with a red cross plastered over her face.

The Arabic service of Israeli public radio and its website are monitored in the Palestinian territories, and the report was quickly picked and republished by other Arabic-language news sites, prompting a sharply-worded response from Gaza's Hamas rulers.

The Israeli soldier was captured in 2006 by militants base in Gaza and has been held by them ever since.

During her visit to Gaza, the French official will visit the French Cultural Center, and has maintained that she will not be meeting with Hamas officials.

Hamas, Gaza resistance riled over misquoted Shalit comments

Word of the mistake had not reached Gaza ahead of the protest, with Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri reiterating the party's stand on the continued holding of the soldier, saying "Shalit was captured in the battle field while he was killing Palestinian citizens on Gaza borders, while there are more than 8 thousand Palestinian prisoners who were arrested by the occupation from their homes without any guilt.”

Speaking for the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, Muhammad Al-Brim said the statement which Israel public radio had announced was a "comprehensive encouragement for the Israeli occupation policy.

The PRC issued a statement on the subject, saying "The French Foreign Minister knows very well that Gilad was in a military tank east of Rafah seizing Palestinians and killing them [when he was captured] and we have the total right to defend our nation."

The scolded the minister saying she "seems to have forgotten about all of the Palestinian detainees spending years in Israeli prisons."


Captives’ relatives protested at French FM visit to Gaza
[ 20/01/2011 - 10:01 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian captives’ families in the Gaza Strip came out in protest, throwing eggs and in some cases, shoes,  as the French Foreign Minister Michel Alliot-Marie and her entourage visited the besieged region on Friday morning.
Dozens of families who have their loved ones imprisoned unlawfully in Israeli prisons, expressed their anger and dismay at statements  attributed to her openly supporting Gilad Shalit's campaign. Alliot-Marie's comments came during a meeting on Thursday afternoon where she is reported to have called on the European Union to condemn Hamas for the continued imprisonment of Gilad Shalit, which she described as a  "war crime". Sources report that she was misquoted by the Israeli Arabic-language radio.
Protestors held "Get out of Gaza" signs and tried to block the convoy as it travelled through the Strip.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri considered remarks the French FM was alleged to have made during her meeting with Shalit’s family said that the FM’s remarks reflect bias to the Israeli occupation adding that Shalit was captured from the battlefield while thousands of Palestinians who are languishing in occupation jails have been kidnapped from the midst of their families.