This image of a French diplomat Marion Castaing forced into the dirt, surrounded by Israeli soldiers with their guns pointed at her tells you all you need to know about the power relations between Israel and the EU.
A decade ago Israel realised international solidarity activists were using the then newer technologies – like mobile phone cameras, laptops and email – to show the world what was supposed to be happening in secret as Israel reinvaded the West Bank and demolished homes in Gaza on a mass scale. Israel decided that had to stop. So within a few months several activists living among Palestinians were either dead, like Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, or seriously injured, like Brian Avery.
One starts to wonder whether a few diplomats will find themselves facing untimely or mysterious deaths in Israel’s efforts to get the EU to stop interfering. Israel is still smarting over the new EU guidelines that are supposed to stop European taxes going to subsidise the settlements.
Now European diplomats have the gall to assist in delivering emergency aid and tents to Khirbet al-Makhul, a Palestinian community in the Jordan Valley whose homes and a kindergarten were recently demolished by the Israeli army. 120 people were made homeless.
This was not an isolated incident. It is part of a general policy by Israel to force the Palestinians out of the Jordan Valley, the breadbasket of any future Palestinian state. A few thousand Jewish settlers now control – and farm – most of the Jordan Valley.
Castaing said: “They dragged me out of the truck and forced me to the ground with no regard for my diplomatic immunity. This is how international law is being respected here.”
Diplomats from France, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Greece, Australia and Brazil were present as they were attacked, and stun grenades fired at them. Let’s now see how bold the EU really is. Is it going to make an issue of this abuse of its diplomats?
Most coverage was based on the account of a Reuters reporter who was present. Not surprisingly, the Israeli media sought to play down the abuse. This picture of Castaing was not used by any of them. Instead the papers either used pictures of Palestinians being arrested (they deserve it, of course, because they’re terrorists!) or pictures of Castaing’s “alleged manhandling”, obscured by distance.
Headlines mostly played down the incident too:
Report: IDF seizes EU diplomats’ West Bank aid supply (Ynet)
IDF says it blocked EU-Palestinian effort to rebuild demolished homes (Times of Israel)
European diplomats: Israeli army manhandled us, seized Palestinian aid (Haaretz)
But at least it got some coverage in Israel. Most international media ignored the event. The few that did cover it, in brief, had even more misleading headlines. Here’s a classic from the NYT: West Bank: Israeli Soldiers Quarrel With Diplomats.