French diplomat Marion Fesneau-Castaing punched an Israeli soldier in the face at the weekend prompting Israel’s Foreign Ministry to demand “an explanation of this blatant violation of diplomatic codes of conduct,” according to reports from AFP and Israel Hayom on Sunday.
Israel Hayom published footage of Fesneau-Castaing striking a helmeted border policeman on the chin with her fist. The punch was thrown on Friday, when IDF troops arrived to disperse a group of European diplomats as they tried to hand out tents and other equipment to Bedouin in Khirbet al-Makhul.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, “Israel rejects the one-sided announcement which was published by the spokespersons of HR [Catherine] Ashton and Commissioner Georgieva regarding the events in the Northern Jordan Valley. This announcement ignores the European diplomats’ blunt violation of the law, their disregard to a ruling of the Israeli court and their unnecessary provocation under the alleged pretext of humanitarian aid.”
“Diplomats are sent by their governments to be a bridge and not act as provocateurs,” it said. “Israel has already made it clear that it will not accept this misconduct. Israel’s response will reflect the seriousness of these violations.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson told AFP that Fesneau-Castaing lay down on the ground as an act of “passive resistance” against enforcement of a court order against unlicensed building by Bedouin.
“She was removed from the vehicle… then she dropped herself onto the ground… nobody threw her on the floor,” he told AFP. “There was violence from her side when she stood up and she walked over and she punched the officer in the face,” Hirschson added.
On Monday, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that a group of houses, stables and a kindergarten in Khirbet al-Makhul did not have proper building permits, leading to Israel’s decision to destroy the structures.
Israel Hayom cited the IDF as saying that its forces had tried to stop locals erecting tents in the area on Friday and locals and “foreign activists” had responded by throwing rocks. The IDF used non-lethal riot dispersal means after the rocks were thrown.
A video of the incident can be viewed below.