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Israel to shun Paris Gaza aid conference: French presidency

By AFP

November 8, 2023 05:53 PM


 

Israeli representatives will not participate at a Thursday "humanitarian conference" for Gaza in Paris organised by French President Emmanuel Macron, his office said.

Like other governments, Israel nevertheless has "an interest in the humanitarian situation improving in Gaza", an official in Macron's office, who asked not to be named, told reporters on Wednesday.

Macron had spoken on Tuesday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the pair will talk again once the aid conference is over, the Elysee Palace added.

The French leader had also spoken to Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on Tuesday, his office said.

Both countries are playing a key role in attempts to bring more aid into the Gaza Strip.

Fighting is raging more than a month after the unprecedented October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas, sparking the deadliest ever war in Gaza.

Hamas militants stormed across the border from Gaza into Israel on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and taking more than 240 hostages, Israeli officials say.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, the retaliatory Israeli military campaign has killed more than 10,500 people, many of them children.

Thursday's aid conference has been put together in a hurry on the sidelines of the Paris Peace Forum on November 10-11, an annual event launched by Macron.

Recent weeks have seen growing calls for humanitarian "pauses" or a full ceasefire to allow aid to enter Gaza and keep hopes alive of freeing the hostages.

International concern over the fate of Gaza's civilians, most of whom cannot flee the sealed-off territory, has prompted calls for a ceasefire.

But Israel has remained firm in keeping up its offensive, with a stated objective of destroying the Palestinian militant group Hamas -- which has governed Gaza since 2007.

Netanyahu has said there will be no fuel delivered to Gaza and no ceasefire with Hamas unless the hostages are freed.

The UN estimates that $1.2 billion in aid will be needed for the populations of Gaza and the West Bank from now until the end of the year.



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