Christope Ena/Pool/Agence France-Presse “The first objective we should have today is the release of all the hostages, without any distinction,” Mr. Macron said in Jerusalem alongside Israeli President Isaac Herzog. There are around 220 detained in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli authorities.
Valérie Leroux – Agence France-Presse and Claire Gounon – Agence France-Presse in Tel-Aviv
- Average -Orient
French President Emmanuel Macron, visiting Israel on Tuesday to express his solidarity, called not to “expand the conflict” between the Israeli army and Hamas, saying that the release of the hostages was a priority.
Mr. Macron's visit comes on the 18th day of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement. It left thousands dead, the vast majority civilians, and was triggered by the bloody attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil on October 7.
Upon his arrival at Tel Aviv airport, he met families of French or Franco-Israeli people killed, disappeared or held hostage in the Gaza Strip.
According to an upwardly revised count by Emmanuel Macron, nine French or Franco-Israeli people are held hostage or missing. At least thirty French people were killed in the Hamas attack, unprecedented in its violence and scale since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. It is also for France the heaviest death toll in an attack since that of July 14, 2016 in Nice (86 dead).
Among the families, that of Mia Shem, a Franco-Israeli hostage whose video was broadcast last week by Hamas, met President Macron, noted an AFP journalist.
“ The first goal we should have today is the release of all the hostages, without any distinction,” Macron said in Jerusalem alongside Israeli President Isaac Herzog. There are around 220 detained in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli authorities.
On Monday, Hamas released two Israeli octogenarians, citing “humanitarian” reasons, three days after the release of an American woman and her daughter.
The French president also said it was “ our duty to fight these terrorist groups, without confusion, and I would say, without widening the conflict.”
The Élysée had indicated before the visit that the president intended to “continue mobilization to avoid a dangerous escalation in the region”, particularly between Israel and the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, supported by Iran, while clashes are taking place daily. on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
The head of state will also propose relaunching a “genuine peace process” for the creation of a Palestinian state, with in return the commitment of the countries of the region for “the security of Israel.”
The president, whose visit comes in particular after those of the American president, Joe Biden, and the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is due to meet the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the afternoon. He will thus be the first Western leader to visit the occupied West Bank since the start of the war.
The Palestinian Authority no longer exercises any power in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took it over. chased away in 2007, after a few days of armed clashes.
Mr. Macron will also “likely have discussions” with Jordanian King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Gulf leaders, the French presidency said.
“Bound by war”
During his one-day visit, President Macron, who is also scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leaders Benny Gantz and Yaïr Lapid, must plead in favor of “a humanitarian truce” which “could lead to a ceasefire”, according to the Élysée.
He must also call for “preserving the civilian populations” in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, according to the Élysée, while Israel launched massive airstrikes there in response to the attack of October 7, with stated objective of “wiping out” the armed group.
Hamas claims that at least 5,087 Palestinians, including 2,055 children, have been killed in Gaza in Israeli raids since the start of the war.< /p>
More than 1,400 people were killed in Israel, most of them civilians, on the first day of the Hamas attack, according to Israeli authorities.
“We are linked to Israel through mourning”, wrote the French president on X (formerly Twitter): “In Tel Aviv, with their families, I expressed the solidarity of the Nation.” that you be sure that you are not alone in this war against terrorism”, he declared to President Herzog.
Emmanuel Macron had insisted that he would make such a trip if he could be “useful” to the region.