Israel and France have averted a diplomatic crisis by agreeing that a French diplomat who hit an Israeli soldier during a fracas over delivering aid to Palestinians should return to Paris.
The incident, which occurred in the Palestinian village of Khirbet al-Makhul a week ago, had the potential to escalate, with Israel considering expelling her and aid groups privately pressing Paris and other European countries involved to protest the treatment of their diplomats.
“We had a conversation with [French officials],” an Israeli official told Reuters, saying Israel was treating the altercation as “an isolated incident that does not affect our relations.”
Both sides agreed that the diplomat, Marion Castaing, would return to Paris by the end of the year.
Castaing was one of a group of European envoys prevented by Israeli soldiers from handing out French-funded tents and emergency aid to 120 Palestinians whose homes Israel had demolished that week.
The soldiers confiscated the EU tents and other aid, and were forced to resort to riot dispersal methods after some activists attacked them with rocks.
A Reuters reporter said he saw soldiers pull Castaing out of a truck carrying the supplies before driving it away. After getting up from the ground, she jabbed an Israeli soldier in the mouth.
Arutz Sheva reported that “a series of videos since released appear to show Castaing deliberately falling to the floor and remaining there as IDF soldiers attempt to coax her back on to her feet.”
Eviction of Palestinians from land that Israeli authorities say does not belong to them is consistent with an Israeli High Court ruling backing the policy.
Complaints about access to Israeli-controlled areas have been limited to private diplomatic communications to avoid tension, sources say.