By Enyichukwu Enemanna
President of France, Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday arrived Tel Aviv where he expressed his country’s “full solidarity” with Israel following a war on its third week, sparked by an October 7 deadly attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas in Israeli territory.
Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip had invaded Israel and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burned to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials. Among them were 30 French nationals.
According to the French Presidency, Macron is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express France’s “full solidarity” with Israel.
During the visit, Macron is expected to call for the “preservation of the civilian population” in Gaza, amid Israel’s relentless bombardment.
Israel is also preparing for a ground invasion of the overcrowded Palestinian enclave, targeting Hamas militants.
More than 5,000 people, most of them women and children, have died during Israel’s attacks, according to numbers given by the Hamas-run health ministry.
Macron will in particular call for a “humanitarian truce” to allow desperately needed aid into Gaza, whose 2.4 million people have been largely deprived of water, food, electricity and other basic supplies after an Israeli blockade, the Elysee Palace said.
Macron and Netanyahu were due to hold a joint press conference at 1:00 pm (1000 GMT).
In Tel Aviv, he was due to meet the families of French and French-Israeli nationals killed in the Hamas attack or being held hostage in Gaza.
Seven French citizens are still missing: one of them, a French woman, has been confirmed as among the more than 200 people Israel says were taken hostage by Hamas.
Macron has said the others are also thought to be hostages, but there has not yet been confirmation.
The French president also aims to continue efforts “to avoid a dangerous escalation in the region”, the Elysee said, amid growing alarm over swelling cross-border exchanges between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Macron will propose relaunching a “true peace process”, with the aim of creating a viable Palestinian state in exchange for guarantees from regional powers towards “Israel’s security”.
There will also probably be exchanges with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and leaders of Gulf nations, the Elysee said.