'First Gaza paraglider in history': Israel slams EU envoy who soared over Gaza coast to draw focus to blockade

'First Gaza paraglider in history': Israel slams EU envoy who soared over Gaza coast to draw focus to blockade
With Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff's tenure as EU envoy to Palestine coming to an end, the German decided he would paraglide over Gaza's coast to bring attention to the 15-year Israeli siege of the tiny territory.
2 min read
20 July, 2023
Burgsdorff mission as EU envoy to Gaza and the West Bank is almost over [Getty]

Israel on Wednesday condemned the EU envoy to the Palestinians after he paraglided over Gaza’s coast to draw attention to the 15-year siege of the strip.

Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff filmed his flight, proclaiming in the video that it was "the first Gaza paragliding flight in history".

"Once you have a free Palestine, a free Gaza, you can do exactly the same thing," the German diplomat said, addressing Palestinians.

"That is why I’m doing this, to show the way forward," he added.

Burgsdorff’s stunt left Tel Aviv fuming, with the Israeli foreign ministry claiming that it was a "provocative action" that serves as propaganda for "terrorist organisations".

"The European diplomat forgot a long time ago that he represents the European Union and its member states," an Israeli spokesperson said.

Burgsdorff "continues to present the Palestinian narrative and be a propaganda tool in the hands of the terrorist organisations", the spokeperson added. 

Israel refers to Hamas, the group that has ruled the blockaded Palestinian enclave since 2007, as a terrorist  organisation.

A spokesperson for the EU, however, defended Burgsdorff, pointing out that the paraglider was his personal property and that it was a "purely local sport activity".

Burgsdorff has also kayaked in the area as his role as envoy comes to an end.

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Gaza is home to 2.1 million people, despite only being 25 miles long.

The effects of the siege, first imposed by Tel Aviv but now enforced by both Egypt and Israel, have been brutal.

Both human rights groups and the UN agree that the siege constitutes collective punishment by Israel and severely violates international law.

The New Arab could not verify if Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff is indeed the first person to paraglide over Gaza.