Macron says ‘total destruction of Hamas’ would take 10 years of war

French president says Israel’s objective must be made clear, adds renewed fighting demands greater ceasefire efforts

France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 2, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 2, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron warned Saturday that Israel’s aim of eliminating the Palestinian terror group Hamas risked unleashing a decade of war.

Achieving the “total destruction of Hamas” would mean “the war will last 10 years,” Macron said at a press conference on the sidelines of the UN’s COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

“So this objective must be clarified,” he added.

Macron also called for intensified efforts to reach a lasting ceasefire in Gaza, a day after fighting resumed between Israel and Hamas when the terror group violated the weeklong truce by failing to deliver a list of hostages it intended to release and by firing rockets at Israel.

“This situation requires stepped-up efforts to reach a lasting ceasefire,” free all hostages held by Hamas, allow more urgently needed aid into Gaza, and assure Israel of its security, he said.

During the truce, Hamas released 105 civilian hostages — 81 Israelis, 23 Thai nationals and one Filipino. It is believed that 137 hostages remain in Gaza. In return, Israel released 210 Palestinian security prisoners, all women and minors.

File: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) greets French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Photo by Christophe Ena / POOL / AFP)

Additionally, some 200 trucks, including four tankers of fuel and four tankers of cooking gas, entered Gaza each day.

Macron has expressed great concern for civilians in Gaza, telling Netanyahu in a phone call two weeks ago that there were “too many civilian losses” due to Israel’s offensive.

Macron came under fire in Jerusalem a week before that phone call for criticizing the military campaign, saying it was “de facto” killing “ladies and babies” in Gaza. He then clarified in a call to President Isaac Herzog that he was trying to address the humanitarian situation and did not intend to accuse Israel of targeting civilians.

Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas after 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel on October 7, massacred some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, amid brutal atrocities, and abducted 240 more to Gaza.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israel’s campaign has killed over 15,000 people in Gaza, including thousands of children. The toll cannot be independently verified, and is thought to include combatants as well as civilians killed by misfired rockets aimed at Israel.

Israel accuses Hamas of using Gazans as human shields and running its war machine from inside and close to hospitals, schools, mosques, and United Nations facilities.

File: A French floating hospital arrives off the coast of Egypt on November 27, 2023. (Emmanuel Macron/X)

France has dispatched a floating hospital, which docked off the coast of El Arish in Egypt’s northern Sinai this week and will serve Palestinian civilians wounded in the war.

The Dixmude ship contains 40 hospital beds, comprising ten percent of the current number of beds in northern Sinai, where 400 beds are already serving patients in the desert bordering Gaza, a French diplomat told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

It is also equipped with a helicopter landing pad to allow for the speedy transfer of patients from Egypt’s Rafah crossing onto the ship.

Israel is looking to promote alternative hospitals to the ones in Gaza for treating Palestinian patients, arguing that Hamas is operating within and underneath those in the Strip.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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