French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was attacked by a mob in Gaza on Friday morning. Her attackers were enraged over statements she had allegedly made the day before supporting human rights for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Alliot-Marie was mobbed as she entered Gaza, with a crowd surrounding her car, pounding on its windows, and throwing shoes at the vehicle. One person jumped on the car. Two children were pushed in front of the first car in Alliot-Marie’s convoy, forcing the convoy to a stop while the attack continued.
One sign at the rally had a picture of Alliot-Marie with a red cross over her face. Others called on the foreign minister to leave Gaza.
Hamas police eventually stopped the furious protest and allowed the convoy to continue. Hamas leaders expressed sympathy with the rioters, saying Alliot-Marie’s comments regarding Shalit reflected a “total bias toward Israel.”
Alliot-Marie was not hurt in the attack.
She had met Thursday with the parents of Gilad Shalit. The kidnapped soldier, who Hamas claims to have in custody, holds French citizenship. Alliot-Marie assured his parents that “France has not forgotten Shalit,” and said she would insist that the European Union ask Hamas to allow Red Cross representatives to visit Shalit, as required by international law.
According to AFP, trying to ‘justify’ the incident, the Gaza mob may have mistakenly believed that Alliot-Marie termed Shalit’s captivity a “war crime.”
Shalit’s father Noam had called on France to push the EU to condemn the kidnapping as a war crime, and his statement was wrongly attributed to Alliot-Marie on Israel Radio’s Arabic-language website, an AFP reporter said. This has not been corroborated.
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