France's Macron says 'priority is cease-fire' in Gaza

France's Macron says 'priority is cease-fire' in Gaza

French president urges Israel to respect humanitarian law, continue with 'targeted operations'

By Nur Asena Erturk

ANKARA (AA) – France’s president said Tuesday that a cease-fire in Gaza is 'a priority.'

Emmanuel Macron held a news conference at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris following a Cabinet reshuffle to reply to questions on national and global issues.

"All lives matter," the president reiterated, blaming the Palestinian group Hamas for the current situation in the region.

He recalled that France has delivered humanitarian aid to those in need in Gaza but stressed that the "priority is a cease-fire."

After 100 days of conflict, targeted operations by Israel's defense forces must be combined with respect for humanitarian law, said Macron, who also noted the importance of preventing the conflict from spreading in the entire region.

"France is attached to peace and stability in Lebanon," the president said.

The president also announced that a national ceremony will be held on Feb. 7 in Paris to commemorate 41 French nationals killed on Oct. 7 in the Middle East.

Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks on Gaza since a cross-border attack on Oct. 7 by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas which Tel Aviv said killed 1,200 people.

At least 24,285 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and 61,154 injured, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Tensions have escalated along Lebanon’s border with Israel since the Israeli army launched a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack amid an exchange of cross-border fire between the Lebanese Hezbollah group and Israeli forces in the deadliest clashes since the two sides fought a full-scale war in 2006.

Macron announced that he will visit Ukraine in February amid the war with Russia, adding that Paris will continue to support Kyiv in terms of military equipment, including delivering around 40 SCALP long-range cruise missiles and hundreds of bombs and training soldiers.

"We cannot and must not allow Russia to prevail, since Europe's security and that of Russia's neighbors will be challenged. Letting Russia prevail equals accepting that the international rules that we defined cannot be respected anymore," said Macron.

Russia started its "special military operation" in Ukraine in February 2022. It demands that Ukraine declare itself a neutral country and abandon plans to join NATO.

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