Bianca Zammit, the Maltese peace activist who was shot in Gaza last week, has described the Israeli Ambassador's comments on the incident as an "insult".

Talking to The Times from her home in Gaza where she is recovering from a bullet wound to her thigh, Ms Zammit, 28, said Palestinian political groups such as Hamas had nothing to do with the International Solidarity Movement she formed part of.

Gideon Meir, the non-resident Israeli Ambassador to Malta, said he was sorry about the shooting but regretted that innocent civilians such as Ms Zammit were "being used by the Palestinians and by the International Solidarity Movement for political purposes to enhance their case".

"The Israeli Ambassador is trying to tarnish my reputation but what hurts most is that he is trying to politicise these genuine non-violent actions. He is trying to make them what they are not," Ms Zammit said, insisting she was shocked by the news on Wednesday that another peace activist, Ahmad Sliman Salem Dib, 19, died after being shot in the leg by an Israeli.

The International Solidarity Movement is leading a series of demonstrations to protest against Israel's decision to impose a 300-metre buffer zone on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border with Israel. The buffer zone has had a negative impact on Palestinian farmers, who cannot till their land.

Ms Zammit said the non-violent action was organised by civil society organisations, farmers and residents. "They come from all political factions but organisers ask them to put politics aside. Hamas have nothing to do with the organisation. It is a very grass roots campaign," she said.

The long-standing human rights campaigner is convalescing at home but has to go in for hospital treatment every day. She is expected to make a full recovery and yesterday sounded upbeat about the prospects of being able to walk in three weeks' time.

Ms Zammit was shot in the leg by the Israeli military while filming a Palestinian protest in Gaza. Fellow protester, 18-year-old Nidal Al Naji, and Hind Al Akra, 22, were injured in the same demonstration.

Malta officially protested with Israel after the incident, with the Foreign Ministry deploring the shooting.

Moviment Graffitti yesterday expressed its "deep disappointment" at the comments made by the Israeli Ambassador, adding they were an insult to Ms Zammit and all those, including many Jews, who, like her, were dedicated to the cause of human rights in Palestine.

The group said Mr Meir failed to explain how Israeli soldiers were shooting with so much ease on unarmed civilians in a peaceful protest.

Graffitti also urged the government to protest even more forcefully with the Israeli authorities after they reacted in such a "shameful" manner.

The Muslim community in Malta expressed its admiration and appreciation of Ms Zammit's "heroic" participation in a demonstration to support the "oppressed Palestinian people".

It condemned Israeli brutality against the Maltese peace activist and other foreign and Palestinian demonstrators.

"Israel's act showed that Israeli forces consider all Palestinians and those who justly supported them as enemies," the Muslim community said.

ksansone@timesofmalta.com

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