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Israel apologises over shooting incident

The incident took place at the Erez checkpoint Keystone Archive

Israel has apologised to Switzerland for an incident last year when a Swiss diplomatic vehicle came under fire from Israeli soldiers at a Gaza Strip checkpoint.

This content was published on December 15, 2004 - 18:20

The shooting, which was investigated by both Swiss and Israeli authorities, sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The Swiss authorities announced on Wednesday that they had received an official apology from Amos Gilad of the Israeli defence ministry.

Gilad made the apology on behalf of the Israeli government during talks in Bern with Swiss diplomat Urs Ziswiler.

In a statement, the Swiss foreign ministry said it accepted the apology as well as the “measures taken by Israel which allow this matter to be brought to an end”.

It added that Israel had agreed to pay for the damage caused during the shooting.

Nobody was injured in the incident, but the Israeli officer and soldier involved have since been disciplined.

Under fire

In May 2003 a car carrying the Swiss representative to the Palestinian Authority, Jean-Jacques Joris, was hit by Israeli military gunfire at the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

A soldier is alleged to have fired two shots at the car, which was hit on the windshield without causing any serious damage.

The Swiss maintained that the vehicle was clearly marked with diplomatic insignia.

An Israeli report - sent after Switzerland demanded an explanation - concluded that the soldiers did not shoot to kill and that the bullets were aimed at the ground but had ricocheted into the car’s windscreen.

But a separate Swiss investigation suggested that the car had come under direct fire.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The incident took place on May 26, 2003 at the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

A preliminary Swiss report disagreed with the Israeli findings that the bullets were aimed at the ground but had ricocheted into the car’s windscreen.

The incident caused tensions between the two countries but was resolved by an official apology from Israel on December 15, 2004.

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