Czech Republic Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický broke with the tone of the European Union regarding recent incidents in Gaza, saying on Thursday the violence last week had nothing to do with the US Embassy move, and that rushing the security fence should be regarded as a form of terrorism.
Stropnický took issue with the narrative that gained traction in much of the Western media, the EU and in most European capitals that the violence on May 14, which left more than 60 dead, was the result of the US Embassy being moved to Jerusalem that same day.
For instance, a statement issued by the Office of the EU Representative to the West Bank and Gaza after the day of violence, said, “Dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been killed and hundreds injured from Israel fire today, during ongoing mass protests near the Gaza fence against the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem today.”
Stropnický disagreed, saying, “I do not think that there is a causal link between the transfer of the US Embassy... and the events in Gaza.”
The Middle East conflict, he said, has raged for years and the relocation of the embassy was used as a pretense by Hamas to “exacerbate even more intense events that had been organized long before.”
While noting the tragic dimensions of the loss of life, the Czech Foreign Minister said the concern is not only about the victims of the ongoing violence, “but also about its causes, including who initiates it.”
“The fact is,” Stropnický continued, “Hamas [which he pointed out was considered a terrorist organization by the EU] is fully responsible for the form and objectives of the violent actions that have taken place on the border between Israel and Gaza for weeks.”
The Foreign Minister said a large number of the protesters were demonstrating against conditions in Gaza caused by the government of Hamas.
He continued by saying Hamas was coming up with a number of “provocative actions that no state in the world could accept.”
The “persistent effort of the attackers to break the border fence and enter Israel” can be considered an “act of terrorism,” Stropnický said, and other activities along the borders – such as burning tires and setting fields on fire – must also not be ignored.
Other small details that should not be overlooked, he said, were Hamas setting fire to the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, and sending minors under 18 to the fence so that Israel can then be accused of killing children.
What this all shows – he concluded in the statement headlined “Gaza: Telling things as they really are” – is that Hamas is not concerned about the people in Gaza, and that its actions will do nothing to contribute to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This statement is in stark contrast to many others that came out of European capitals last week, such as a statement put out by the French Foreign Ministry, which on the day of the heavy Gaza violence called “again on the Israeli authorities to exercise discretion and restraint with respect to the use of force, which must be strictly proportionate. It affirms the duty to protect civilians, especially minors, and the right of Palestinians to demonstrate peacefully.”
The French statement in its entirety excluded the word “Hamas.”