France's Macron calls on Israel to stop bombing Gaza civilians

France  Ludovic Marin  AP
NOV 11, 2023 LISTEN
© Ludovic Marin / AP

French President Emmanuel Macron called Friday on Israel to stop bombing civilians in Gaza, saying there was "no justification" and the deaths were causing "resentment". His comments came as Saudi Arabia prepared to host Arab leaders and Iran's president for an emergency summit over the weekend.

In an interview with English public broadcaster BBC, Macron said Israel had the right to protect itself after the 7 October Hamas attacks, but he added: "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."

Macron said France "clearly condemns" the unprecedented cross border attacks by the Palestinian militant groups that Israel says left 1,200 dead, mainly civilians, with 240 others taken hostage.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says that more than 11,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in Israel's air and ground assault since.

"We do share [Israel's] pain. And we do share their willingness to get rid of terrorism," Macron said in the interview on the fringes of an international peace forum in Paris.

"We know what terrorism means in France." But he insisted there was "no justification" for the bombing of civilians.

All lives matter

"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," he added.

Macron said that all governments and aid agencies at a humanitarian aid conference in Paris on Thursday had agreed that a "humanitarian pause" followed by a "ceasefire" was the only way to protect Gaza's civilians.

When asked whether Israel had breached international law, Macron replied: "I'm not a judge. I'm a head of state" who sought to be "a partner and a friend" to Israel.

The French leader added that he disagreed that the best way for Israel to "protect [itself] is having a large bombing of Gaza".

This was creating "resentment and bad feelings" in the Middle East, he said.

Macron is among western leaders who have visited Israel since the attacks to show solidarity.

Point of no return

Concern over the civilian toll has also come from staunch ally Washington, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying Friday: "Far too many Palestinians have been killed."

 Almost 1.6 million people have been internally displaced since the conflict began, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said – about two thirds of Gaza's population. 

Twenty of Gaza's 36 hospitals are "no longer functioning", the UN's humanitarian agency said.


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) echoed this statement: "Overstretched, running on thin supplies and increasingly unsafe, the health care system in Gaza has reached a point of no return."

But the UN estimates tens of thousands of civilians remain in the fiercest battle zones in the north.

A summit meeting Saturday between Islamic and Arab leaders and Iran's president in the Saudi capital was expected to underscore demands that Israel's war in Gaza end before the violence draws in other countries.

The Arab League aims to demonstrate "how the Arabs will move on the international scene to stop the aggression, support Palestine and its people, condemn the Israeli occupation, and hold it accountable for its crimes", the bloc's assistant secretary-general, Hossam Zaki, said this week.

Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday condemned "continued violations of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupation forces," his first public comments on the war, though Riyadh has levelled similar criticism in multiple statements.

(with AFP)