French diplomat killed in Gaza, says Foreign Ministry

Official took shelter in a house in Rafah that was bombed by Israelis

Palestinians at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 17, 2023. Reuters
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A French diplomat was killed in Gaza, the government in Paris said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he was killed by an Israeli air strike on a residence in Rafah city.

“It is with great emotion that the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs has learnt of the death of one of its agents, who died as a result of injuries sustained during an Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip,” the ministry said on Saturday.

The diplomat, who joined the service in 2002, had taken shelter in a French Consulate staff member's house along with two colleagues and a number of their relatives.

The house was bombed on Wednesday evening, fatally injuring the diplomat and killing dozens of others, the Foreign Ministry said.

Members of the diplomat's family had been sent to France along with French nationals in Gaza, including staff from cultural organisation the French Institute and their dependents.

The statement said France condemned the bombing of a residential building, which caused the deaths of many civilians.

“We demand that the Israeli authorities shed full light on the circumstances of this bombing, as soon as possible,” it said.

There was no comment from the Israeli military.

Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday as part of a two-day trip to Israel, Palestine and Lebanon.

“I reiterated France’s commitment to Israel’s security in the face of terrorism, the urgent need for a humanitarian truce in Gaza, the release of hostages, humanitarian access and the importance of doing everything possible to avoid an escalation with Lebanon,” Ms Colonna said in a post on the social network X following her meeting with her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen.

Ms Colonna did not comment on the death of the diplomat.

Updated: December 17, 2023, 12:25 PM