Palestinians throw stones at EU diplomats’ car in West Bank protest over war

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 9:48 AM

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – A group of Palestinian students disrupted a meeting of European Union diplomats in the West Bank on Tuesday and attacked some of their cars with stones, smashing the back window of one of the vehicles to protest against the war in Gaza, witnesses said.

The EU diplomats to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories were holding a meeting at the Palestinian Museum, which celebrates Palestinian history and culture, in Birzeit near Ramallah when the incident happened.

One diplomat present told Reuters they were in a meeting when a crowd appeared outside telling them to leave and after attempts at dialogue were unsuccessful, the diplomats left. The experience was unpleasant, but there was no serious threat to any of the diplomats, he said.

Videos on social media later showed a crowd surrounding a car and smashing a window by throwing stones.

Amr Kayed, a student from Birzeit University, said they forced the EU diplomats to leave to send a message that “anyone who is complicit in genocide and the offensive on Gaza” was not welcome.

Oliver Owcza, the German representative to the Palestinian territories, said he regretted that the meeting was interrupted.

“Nevertheless, we remain committed to constructively work with our Palestinian partners!,” he said on X. “Peaceful protest & dialogue always has its place.”

Before the incident, Palestinian students posted a message on Facebook calling for a protest against the presence of the Germany representative over his country’s support for Israel during its war with Gaza.

Germany has been one of Israel’s staunchest allies since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants which killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies. More than 34,535 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s subsequent military offensive, according to health authorities in the enclave.

Germany has also been one of the leading arms exporters to Israel, sending 326.5 million euros ($349 million) in military equipment and weapons in 2023, according to German Economy Ministry data.

Violence in the West Bank, which had already been on the rise before the war, has since flared with stepped up Israeli raids and Palestinian street attacks. Palestinian Health Ministry records show Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 460 Palestinians since Oct. 7.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and the area has been under military occupation since, while Israeli settlements have gradually expanded. Palestinians envisage the West Bank as part of a future independent state also including Gaza and East Jerusalem.

($1 = 0.9345 euros)

(reporting by Ali Sawafta and James Mackenzie, Writing by Andrew MacAskill, Editing by William Maclean)