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Israeli diplomat latest victim after Bush, Wen

Shoe-throwing appears to have become the latest fad among protesters, with the Israeli envoy to Sweden Benny Dagan adding his name to the club of victims after ex-US President George W Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

world Updated: Feb 05, 2009 19:28 IST

Shoe-throwing appears to have become the latest fad among protesters, with the Israeli envoy to Sweden adding his name to the club of victims after ex-US President George W Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Israeli Ambassador Benny Dagan was delivering a lecture at the University of Stockholm on Wednesday on the Jewish state's recent military offensive in Gaza, 'Operation Cast Lead', when a 35-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman threw a shoe and a book at him, the media here reported today. Both persons -- who were apparently angry over the Israeli military offensive in Gaza that left nearly 1,300 Palestinians dead -- were apprehended by local police. "The incident is an expression of the atmosphere created by extreme elements and some of the media in Sweden, which are finding fertile soil for their baseless accusations against Israel to take root," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Monday, a protester threw a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen, interrupting his speech at the Cambridge University during his visit to London which was marred by pro-Tibetan protests.

The act of shoe-throwing as a mark of protest was first witnessed in Iraq in December last year when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw his shoes at former US President Bush.

Dagan, who was not injured and continued his lecture despite the disturbance, told 'Ynet' on Thursday that such a behavior would not stop him.

"This is not something that will deter me and prevent me from reaching out to the community in Sweden. As advocates of Israel, it is our duty to present Israel's just struggle. My public appearances are important for the many friends of Israel in Sweden," the envoy said.

"My avoidance (of public events) and hiding is exactly the behaviour my enemies want," Dagan said.

Israel's 22-day offensive in Gaza against Hamas, which also left hundreds of civilians including women and children dead, had evoked sharp responses in several parts of the world.

The Jewish state justified it saying that it was done in self defence to stop the barrage of rockets fired on its southern communities and had vowed use of "disproportionate" force if the attacks continued, following the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire on January 18.