Israel condemns EU envoy’s Gaza paragliding flight

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Israel has condemned the EU’s outgoing envoy to the Palestinians after he paraglided over Gaza’s coast to draw attention to the blockade of the strip.

A video showed Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff declaring he had carried out “the first Gaza paragliding flight in history”.

“Once you have a free Palestine, a free Gaza, you can do exactly the same thing,” the German diplomat adds.

Israel’s foreign ministry said it was a “provocative action” that served as propaganda for militant groups in Gaza.

“The European diplomat forgot a long time ago that he represents the European Union and its member states,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“[He] continues to represent the Palestinian narrative and to be a propaganda tool in the hands of the terrorist organisations that control Gaza.”

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A spokesperson for the EU delegation to the Palestinians told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that the paraglider belonged to Mr Kühn von Burgsdorff and that Israeli authorities were not informed in advance of “the purely local and sport activity”.

The envoy also went kayaking in the Mediterranean during his two-day visit at the end of his mission in the region.

About 2.1 million people live in Gaza, which is only 40km (25 miles) long and up to 11km wide.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas – designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the EU and other powers – took full control of the territory in 2007. It ousted Palestinian Authority security forces in days of bloody fighting, a year after it won the Palestinians’ last parliamentary election.

Following the takeover, Israel and Egypt imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Gaza, restricting the movement of goods and people. The two countries say the blockade is for self-defence.

However, the blockade has crippled Gaza’s economy and living conditions are dire. Human rights groups say it constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of international humanitarian law.

Related Topics

  • Israel & the Palestinians
  • Israel
  • Palestinian territories
  • Gaza
  • European Union

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