A crowd of furious Palestinian protesters have 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 surrounded Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie's convoy and tried to block her passage through the Erez Crossing from Israel on Friday. The protesters were relatives of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
They were angry about comments made by Alliot-Marie on Thursday in support of Gilad Shalit, an the Israel Defense Forces soldier held by Hamas militants in Gaza since 2006.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said her comments reflected a total bias toward Israel.
Hamas police eventually dispersed the protesters and allowed her through.
A member of Alliot-Marie's entourage was hit in the head and later examined at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
On Friday afternoon, Alliot-Marie visited the southern town of Sderot.
On Thursday, Alliot-Marie met Aviva and Noam Shalit, Gilad Shalit's parents, in Jerusalem, where she said that Shalit had "been held hostage for over four years. His complete isolation and preventing any sign of life from him is completely inhumane. We demand his immediate release."
Shalit is a French citizen, and France "is using all its ties in the region to advance his release," she said.
France's role in freeing Shalit is secondary because Israel and Hamas chose the German mediator to negotiate the soldier's release following to his success in dealing with Hezbollah, she said.
Due to the issue's sensitivity, Alliot-Marie chose not to comment on the talks and the reports about a new deal being negotiated.
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