NEW: French consul, family hit by flying glass, ministry says
France calls on Israel to avoid civilian casualties
Israel says the strike was in response to Palestinian rocket fire
French officials Tuesday condemned an Israeli airstrike on Gaza that wounded its consul, his wife and their daughter, calling on Israel to avoid civilian casualties.
“France strongly deplores the consequences of this air strike,” a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris announced. “While France is committed to security in Israel, it reaffirms the imperative need to avoid attacks on civilians. This imperative was reaffirmed to the Israeli authorities.”
The consul, Majdi Shakoura, was at home with his family in the northern end of Gaza when the airstrike hit about 200 meters (650 feet) away, the Foreign Ministry said. The strike blew out their windows, and they were struck by shards of flying glass, the ministry said.
Capt. Aryeh Shalikar, an Israeli military spokesman, told CNN the airstrike was aimed at Palestinian militants who fired a rocket into southern Israel late Sunday. Shalikar said the Israel Defense Forces “never received any official statement from any source” regarding injuries to Shakoura or his relatives.
“The IDF wishes to convey that missiles are being fired at Israeli civilians from terrorists, and it has no intention of harming civilians when it returns fire at terrorists,” he said.
Palestinian security and medical officials said one person died and several others were wounded in the airstrike, which they said struck a Hamas naval building in northern Gaza. A Hamas security official said two Israeli rockets struck the building.
France has a consulate and a cultural center in Gaza “to support the population,” the Foreign Ministry said. France has helped build water and sewer systems and rebuild hospitals in Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamic movement Hamas.
The United States, European Union and Israel classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, and Israel has maintained a controversial blockade of Gaza since Hamas took power in 2007.
CNN’s Naima Benallal in Paris and Izzy Lemberg in Jerusalem contributed to this report.