Gaza demo targets French minister


French Foreign Affairs Minister Michele Alliot-Marie greets Israel's President Shimon Peres (AP)

A crowd of Palestinian protesters tried to block the French foreign minister on her way into the Gaza Strip, jumping on her vehicle and lying on the road.

Dozens of protesters, relatives of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, surrounded Michele Alliot-Marie’s convoy and tried to block her passage through the Erez Crossing from Israel.

They were angry about comments made by Alliot-Marie on Thursday in support of Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier captured in a cross-border raid by Hamas militants and held in Gaza since 2006. Schalit is an Israeli-French dual national.

In Israel, Alliot-Marie met with Schalit’s parents and called on Hamas to allow the Red Cross to visit the soldier, according to Israeli media.

Hamas police eventually moved on the protesters and allowed her through. But more protesters gathered outside a United Nations office in Gaza City that was her first stop in the Palestinian territory and later followed her to a nearby hospital, pelting her motorcade with eggs.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said her comments reflected a “total bias toward Israel” and ignored the thousands of Palestinians held by Israel. “They are the true prisoners of war,” he said.

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