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10 Nov, 2023 23:23

‘Stop killing babies,’ Macron tells Israel

The French president has condemned Hamas but urged a ceasefire in Gaza
‘Stop killing babies,’ Macron tells Israel

The bombing of civilians in Gaza needs to stop, French President Emmanuel Macron told the BBC in an interview on Friday. 

He was speaking a day after Paris hosted a humanitarian aid conference about the Palestinian enclave. 

France “clearly condemns” the Hamas attacks of October 7, Macron said, in reference to the incursion from Gaza by militants in which 1,400 Israelis were murdered. “We do share [Israel’s] pain. And we do share their willingness to get rid of terrorism. We know what terrorism means in France.”

However, he added, there was “no justification” for the ongoing bombing of civilians in Gaza.

“It’s extremely important for all of us, because of our principles, because we are democracies, it's important for the mid-to-long run, as well for the security of Israel itself, to recognise that all lives matter,” the French president said.

De facto – today, civilians are bombed – de facto. These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and killed. So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop.

The “clear conclusion” of all the governments and agencies that took part in the conference, the French president said, was “that there is no other solution than first a humanitarian pause, going to a ceasefire, which will allow [us] to protect... all civilians having nothing to do with terrorists.”

Several NGOs, as well as the governments of Algeria and Colombia, have pushed for prosecuting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes in Gaza. When pressed about the issue, Macron dodged the question, saying it would not be appropriate for a head of state to criticize “a partner and a friend” just a month after a terrorist attack.

However, he argued that the best way for Israel to defend itself is not a “large bombing of Gaza,” which is only creating “resentment and bad feelings” in the region.

Visiting Israel last month, Macron proposed re-activating the US-led “global coalition against ISIS” – the terrorist group also known as Islamic State – to combat Hamas. Netanyahu did not seem interested, however.

The Israeli prime minister responded to Macron’s call on Friday by saying that Hamas was responsible for all the deaths in Gaza, because it was using “schools, mosques and hospitals as terror command centers” and civilians as human shields.

“These crimes that Hamas-ISIS is committing today in Gaza, will tomorrow be committed in Paris, New York and everywhere around the world. World leaders must condemn Hamas-ISIS and not Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Israel has said 1,200 of its citizens were killed and 240 abducted in the October 7 incursion by Hamas. As of Friday, more than 11,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and 27,490 wounded in the month-long Israeli offensive. Another 1.5 million have been displaced, according to local authorities.

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