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Ashrawi slams 'brutal attack' on diplomats in Jordan Valley

Sept. 21, 2013 1:27 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 22, 2013 6:49 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Friday strongly condemned an attack by Israeli forces on foreign diplomats distributing aid to Bedouins in the Jordan Valley.

Israeli troops used force to disperse a group of foreign diplomats, who had accompanied aid workers to the village of Makhul in the Jordan Valley, an AFP photographer said.

French diplomat Marion Fesneau-Castaing was dragged out of an aid truck, the photographer said.

A European diplomatic source said the woman was yanked out of the truck by Israeli soldiers who later confiscated the vehicle.

The source, who declined to be named, said diplomats from France, Britain, Greece, Ireland, Spain and Sweden had accompanied aid workers to Makhul to help hand out tents to the Bedouins.

"On behalf of the Palestinian leadership, I condemn in the strongest terms the brutal attack on your representative's person and dignity by the Israeli occupation forces," Hanan Ashrawi said.

"This measure is yet another example of the Israeli policies that aim at preventing any attempt to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people, let alone ending the occupation," she added.

The assault was a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and amounts to "bullying" of the international community, the senior PLO official said.

"This is a sample of what the Palestinian people has been subjected to since the beginning of the occupation," she added.

The Israeli military said Palestinians were to blame for instigating the incident.

An army spokeswoman said forces were implementing a supreme court decision and "contained the violence with riot dispersal means and detained Palestinians who were the main instigators."

On Monday, Israel's army demolished property built by Bedouins in Makhul, after an Israeli court ruled they had been erected without building permits and declared the area a "closed military zone".

The move forcibly displacement 10 families, including 16 children, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

The UN's humanitarian coordinator James Rawley expressed "deep concern" over Friday's incident and the demolitions that evicted Palestinians from their property.

"The United Nations and its partners remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance to populations in immediate need," Rawley said, after Israeli troops prevented the distribution of aid.

"I call upon the Israeli authorities to live up to their obligations as occupying power to protect those communities under their responsibility, including to halt demolitions of Palestinian homes and property," he added.

"The displacement of a whole Palestinian community in the occupied Palestinian territory is a very disappointing development at such a delicate moment where we look forward to positive measures on the ground," he said in reference to the resumption in July of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Israel has destroyed more than 500 Palestinian properties in the West Bank and mostly East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year, displacing 862 people, according to OCHA.
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