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Thursday Nov. 17, 2011 9:57 AM (EST+7)

PARIS, Nov 16 (Reuters) - France's Foreign Ministry summoned Israel's ambassador on Wednesday to protest about an air strike on Gaza that injured the French consul and his family on Sunday.

The French consul, his wife and 13-year-old daughter were hit by shrapnel at their residence in Gaza during the strike on Sunday night.

This morning we reminded the Israeli ambassador how much we deplore the consequences of this raid for the head of our consulate and his family, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a regular online briefing.

While we recognize Israel's need to ensure its security, he (the ambassador) was reminded about the importance of keeping civilians and the French presence in Gaza from being affected, he added.

The raid killed one policeman and wounded four others after Palestinian militants from the coastal territory fired a rocket into southern Israel.

The Israeli military issued a statement saying it had not been approached about the injuries to the diplomat and his family and said a strike had been aimed at the location from where a rocket was launched.

Terrorists located in the Gaza Strip constantly fire missiles intentionally at civilian targets. The IDF maintains its basic right to protect Israeli civilians from these attacks, it said.

The incident has added to strains in an already tense relationship between France and Israel.

Journalists overheard French President Nicolas Sarkozy describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a liar in a conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama at a G20 summit in Cannes earlier this month.

In an apparent effort to clear the air, Sarkozy later sent Netanyahu a letter of condolences on the death of his father-in-law in which he also reaffirmed their friendship and said it was not affected by our differing views on the problems of the Middle East. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem, Editing by Tim Pearce)






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