The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has called on Israel to agree a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that there was “no justification” for bombing civilians in the embattled territory.
In an interview with the 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.
“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. – Guardian UK.