|Vol 7, No.5, 1.2.01, p5
A European Parliament delegation has made a formal protest to the Israeli government after coming under fire on an official visit to Gaza last week.
Group members say they were taking pictures of an Israeli settlement in the southern Gaza town of Gushkhatif when soldiers fired around six shots, forcing them to throw themselves to the ground and scramble for cover.
The two MEPs, Italian Socialist Claudio Fava and Dutch Liberal Lousewies van der Laan, as well as two officials from the Liberal group and the European Commission delegation in Jerusalem have lodged official complaints with the Israeli government.
Israeli diplomats denied that the shots were aimed at the visiting delegation. "It's certain that the Parliament members were not shot at," said one. "They probably heard shooting which was going on related to another event."
The diplomat added that investigations were still going on into reports because the authorities were not aware of any specific event at that time.
According to the MEPs, Israeli army officials initially sought to excuse the actions, saying they thought the group was Palestinian, although they later denied that shots had been fired at all.
Israel has been severely criticised by the United Nations for use of "excessive force" against Palestinian protestors. Human rights group Amnesty International said in December that the Israelis were using "military tactics in a policing situation". But the Israeli army argues that ordinary policing methods are inadequate to deal with the unrest.
A European Parliament delegation has made a formal protest to the Israeli government after coming under fire on a recent official visit to Gaza.
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