SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has described the terrifying moment the car he was travelling in through Palestine was hit by tear gas.
Mr Ramsey was with an Assembly delegation in Israel on Tuesday to discuss stalled peace talks when he was caught up in a struggle between soldiers and teenagers at a checkpoint in Ramallah.
Speaking about the incident, Mr Ramsey said: “Over these last few days our delegation have been meeting with academics, members of Israeli opposition parties and representatives of the Palestinian Legislative Council including Dr Sabri Saidam the Fatah Minister for Education.
“We have been hearing far too many horrific stories of how daily life within Palestine is being disrupted by the occupation and in particular how Palestinian students are being prevented from pursuing their educational opportunities.
“Last night as we approached the Palestinian capital Ramallah we noticed an altercation between Israeli soldiers and some local teenagers at an Israeli checkpoint.
“Suddenly and with no warning the unmistakable smell of tear gas filled our car and our eyes and throats started burning.
“We were fortunate in that we managed to get away quickly and it gave us but a small insight into what life is like today for Palestinians within Palestine.
“The Israeli government must realise that the daily checkpoints, the nightly army operations and the continuous widespread discrimination and harassment, cannot continue if we want honourable and viable two state peace negotiations to progress.
“I will be writing to the Israeli government upon my return to seek an explanation as to why tear gas was used in such a disproportionate way.”