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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday harshly condemned the bombardment of civilian infrastructure in the war raging between Israel and Hamas, while defending France’s balanced approach to the conflict. — AFP pic
BERN (Switzerland), Nov 16 — French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday harshly condemned the bombardment of civilian infrastructure in the war raging between Israel and Hamas, while defending France’s “balanced” approach to the conflict.
“We condemn in the strongest terms all bombardment of civilians and in particular civilian infrastructure, which must be protected” under international law, Macron told reporters in Bern during a state visit to Switzerland.
He was answering a question about the Israeli military raid Wednesday on Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, as part of their war on Hamas, sparking fears for thousands of patients and other civilians said to be trapped inside.
Macron did not mention the hospital by name but stressed that the obligations under international law to protect civilian infrastructure referred “not only to the buildings, but to the health workers inside”, recalling that dozens of workers for humanitarian agencies had been killed in just over a month of fighting in Gaza.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in response to attacks on Israel on October 7, which officials say killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw about 240 hostages taken to Gaza.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israel’s ensuing aerial bombardment and ground offensive has killed 11,320 people, also mostly civilians, including thousands of children.
Macron on Wednesday also rejected criticism that France had lacked clarity in its position on the war.
“The French position has been clear,” he said, insisting it was “balanced” and has “never varied”.
“We completely recognise Israel’s right to defend itself and to fight against terrorism,” he said.
“But because Israel is a democracy... this right to self defence must be exercised within the framework of international humanitarian law, and while respecting the rules of war.”
He acknowledged that France’s approach might not be to everyone’s liking, pointing out that the country had faced criticism from both sides.
Macron has faced rare diplomatic dissent at home over his stance, with a dozen French ambassadors in Middle Eastern and North African countries signing a joint memorandum this week deploring what they allege is his pro-Israeli bias.
He has also faced criticism from the other side, including over an interview with the BBC last week in which he said there was “no justification” for Israel’s bombing of civilians and warned the deaths were causing “resentment”.
He said Wednesday that he stood by those comments, saying the French position was to mourn any child killed, regardless of the side they are on.
“There are no double standards for France,” he said. — AFP
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