Palestinians Block French FM's Motorcade

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EREZ CROSSING - A mob of angry Palestinians surrounded French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie's motorcade as it attempted to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing on Friday morning.

According to media reports, protesters pushed two children in front of the lead vehicle, stopping the convoy. One or two demonstrators jumped on her car while others pummeled it with shoes and fists. Some carried posters that read "Get out of Gaza!"

The protesters were allegedly reacting to a comment by the foreign minister, quoted on Israel Radio, concerning the treatment of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been imprisoned in Gaza since his capture in June 2006.

Alliot-Marie made the remark during a meeting on Thursday with Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, who asked her to press EU member nations to "condemn as a war crime" Hamas' refusal to allow family members, government officials or the International Red Cross to visit their son.

Israel Radio misquoted her as having said the EU "must condemn the war crime that Hamas is committing by keeping Gilad Shalit in captivity," when she was talking about the Red Cross being allowed to visit him.

Hamas security forces eventually dispersed the mob and allowed the motorcade to continue. More angry demonstrators were awaiting her arrival at a United Nations office in Gaza City. They followed her to a nearby hospital, pelting the cars with eggs, The Associated Press reported.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhrhi told reporters the French foreign minister's remarks reflected a "total bias toward Israel."


AP contributed to this report.

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