Gaza protesters hurl shoes to Ban Ki-moon
U.N. Secretary-General Ban gestures to members of the media in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. AP photoDozens of Palestinians threw shoes, sticks and stones at U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s convoy as it crossed into the Gaza Strip yesterday, protesting against what they saw as a slight against Palestinians jailed in Israel.
No one was injured during the hostile welcome and the vehicles, which crossed into the Hamas-ruled territory from southern Israel, pushed through the crowd and sped away. Ban is visiting the region to try to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Many of those who protested as the U.N. convoy passed were family members of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons. They hit the vehicles with signs bearing slogans accusing Ban of bias towards Israel and of refusing to meet the relatives of Palestinian prisoners.
Germany upgrades Palestine’s status
About 5,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails and securing their release is a highly emotive issue in Palestinian society. Meanwhile, Germany has upgraded the Palestinian diplomatic representation in Berlin from a delegation to a mission headed by an ambassador, visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced Feb. 1. The decision followed similar steps in recent months by France, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. It was seen as a boost to the Palestinian quest for international recognition.
Germany is one of the most influential countries in Europe and one of Israel’s most loyal allies. The Palestinians have been campaigning for U.N. membership for a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.