Israel won’t participate in Paris Gaza aid conference organized by Macron

French president will speak with PM Netanyahu after Thursday event, Elysee Palace says; French official notes Israel has ‘an interest’ in improving humanitarian situation

Volunteers stand in front of trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Palestinians at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza Strip, in Rafah, Egypt, October 31, 2023. (Ahmed Hatem/AP)
Volunteers stand in front of trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Palestinians at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza Strip, in Rafah, Egypt, October 31, 2023. (Ahmed Hatem/AP)

Israeli representatives will not participate in a Thursday “humanitarian conference” for Gaza in Paris organized 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 spoke on Tuesday to 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 el-Sissi 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.

Macron visited Israel last month on a solidarity mission.

War has raged for more than a month after the unprecedented October 7 attacks on Israel by terror group Hamas, which caused the biggest single-day loss of life in Israel’s history, and the biggest one-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

Hamas terrorists stormed across the border from Gaza into Israel, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and abducting more than 240 people, men, women and children of all ages, who were dragged back to Gaza as captives. The attack came under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israel’s civilian areas and Hamas, along with other terror groups, has continued to rain barrages on the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (L) as they hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)

The Hamas-run health ministry claims that more than 10,300 Gazans have been killed since the start of the war, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes those killed by failed Palestinian rocket launches at Israel. Hamas has been accused of artificially inflating the death toll, and does not distinguish between civilians and terror operatives.

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

According to France’s Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs website, the conference will focus on key issues such as compliance with international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and humanitarian staff, and the strengthening of humanitarian access.

Regarding the international humanitarian response, the conference will look at health, water, energy and food needs, along with a call for mobilization to support the international agencies and organizations active on the ground.

Delegates will also be able to set out initiatives for the deployment of field hospitals and the establishment of humanitarian air and sea bridges based on needs laid out by the United Nations and the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, the website said.

Recent weeks have seen growing calls for humanitarian “pauses” or a full ceasefire to allow aid to enter Gaza.

An aerial view shows destoyed buildings in al-Zahra city south of Gaza City on October 20, 2023 following Israeli strikes (Photo by Belal ALSABBAGH / AFP)

But Israel has remained firm in keeping up its offensive, with the stated objective of destroying Hamas — which has governed Gaza since 2007. It says a ceasefire will only enable Hamas to remain in power and then rearm, an assessment shared by Washington.

Netanyahu has said there will be no fuel delivered to Gaza and no ceasefire with Hamas unless the hostages are freed. Some aid trucks are entering the enclave from Egypt but aid agencies say the supplies are not enough. Israel has barred the entry of fuel into Gaza, arguing that Hamas has stockpiled sufficient fuel reserves for basic humanitarian needs, and that providing more would help the terror group continue to power its vast tunnel network, which it is using in its operations against IDF troops.

The Defense Ministry on Tuesday said there is no that there is no lack of food, water, or other humanitarian supplies in the territory, and that inventories of critical supplies are being monitored on a daily basis.

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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