A former European Union diplomat filmed himself paragliding over Gaza and saying ‘once we have a free Palestine, you can do the same thing’ – three months before Hamas terrorists flew into Israel to carry out a bloody invasion.
Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, who was the EU’s envoy to Palestine until August, said he was paragliding off the Mediterranean coast to ‘raise awareness of the besieged Palestinian enclave.’
Just three months after the stunt, the territory’s rulers Hamas launched an assault on Israel from land, sea and air, triggering retaliatory airstrikes by Israel which have devastated large swathes of the impoverished enclave.
In the years before the conflict erupted, the densely populated strip of land was subject to blockades by Israel – which Mr von Burgsdorff suggests in the resurfaced video prevented Palestinians and visitors from enjoying sports activities.
Wearing an EU flag t-shirt, the German diplomat excitedly boasted in the video that he had completed the ‘first Gaza paragliding flight in the history.’
Former EU diplomat Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff said he was paragliding off the Gazan coast to ‘raise awareness of the besieged Palestinian enclave’
The paragliding equipment belonged to the envoy, an EU spokesperson said at the time
Wearing an EU flag t-shirt, the German diplomat excitedly boasted in the video that he had completed the ‘first Gaza paragliding flight in the history’
One of the paragliders taking off before he was joined by the other Hamas group members
He struggled to take off at first, waiting for the wind to fill the parachute and take him off the ground, getting assistance from his team and locals.
After getting into the air and safely returning to the cliff, he said the feat proved ‘you can fly here, you can kayak, you can horse ride you can swim, you can surf. Everything is possible in Gaza.
‘Once we have a free Palestine, a free Gaza, you can do exactly the same thing. And that’s the reason I did this, to show you the way forward, to work for it.’
The paragliding equipment belonged to the envoy, an EU spokesperson said at the time, suggesting he managed to get it past border security thanks to his diplomatic immunity.
Mr von Burgsdorff was 50 metres up in the air for at least five minutes, the spokesperson said, before adding that Israel was not informed of ‘the purely local and sport activity.’
Israel’s foreign ministry slammed the stunt as a ‘provocative action’ and accused von Burgsdorff of ‘representing the Palestinian narrative’ instead of the EU.
Mr von Burgsdorff recently came under fire for comments he made about Israel’s response to the Hamas terror atrocities of October 7, which saw 1,400 Israelis killed and over 220 taken hostage.
He told Democracy Now that while he understands the ‘despair’ and ’emotional tension’ in Israel over the terrorists’ invasion, they must abide by international law in their retaliation.
‘No matter what Hamas did, it does not justify the incredible use of lethal force without distinction and without proportionality as far as the Palestinian population is concerned in Gaza.
Mr von Burgsdorff was 50 metres up in the air for at least five minutes, an EU spokesperson said, adding that Israel was not informed of ‘the purely local and sport activity’
‘Distinction, proportionality and precaution are sacrosanct principles for the code of conduct of armed hostilities. And Israel, as a democracy, cannot escape that and has to be held accountable.
‘It cannot be that Israel has a carte blanche because terrible acts, brutal, gruesome acts happened to 1,000 or even 1,200 Israelis. That is not the excuse you can use to flatten Gaza.’
While criticising Israel’s relentless assault on the Gaza Strip, Mr von Burgsdorff failed to condemn Hamas’s attack on Israeli civilians.
Hamas fighter from the ‘Falcon’ squadron were seen walking through the sand at dawn carrying the equipment that would be used in the operation
Hamas fighters circumvented Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip with paragliders, according to the Israeli military (pictured: a paraglider crossing into Israel)
Young festivalgoers had been dancing and enjoying themselves at the Nova party on the border with Gaza on October 7, completely unaware that members of the Hamas militant group were about to descend from the skies and inflict terror.
Hamas fighters were seen training for their deadly paraglider assault in video released days later.
It showed them landing with their weapons drawn before infiltrating mock-up buildings marked with the Jewish Star of David.
In response to Hamas’s horrific attack on Israeli soil, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on the terror group, with sweeping airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in the days and weeks since.
Over 4,600 people have been killed and over 14,000 wounded in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes since October 7, according to the Hamas-run health authority in the territory.
Israeli warplanes continued to strike targets in Gaza throughout the weekend and into Monday morning, as well as two airports in Syria, according to local media.
Meanwhile some 95 people are said to have been killed in the occupied West Bank, where a mosque allegedly used by terrorists was bombed by Israeli forces over the weekend.