The head of state, Emmanuel Macron, called on Friday for a “humanitarian truce” in the war between Israel and Hamas to “organize the protection” of civilian populations. The president spoke at the end of a European summit, going slightly further than his counterparts. Meeting on Thursday in Brussels, the Twenty-Seven, quite divided on the Palestinian question, called on Thursday evening for the establishment of “humanitarian corridors” and “pauses” in the conflict, in order to be able to respond to the needs of civilians.
They expressed their “deepest concern regarding the deterioration of the humanitarian situation” in a declaration defining a common line after more than two weeks of cacophony on the subject. “We fully recognize (Israel's) right to fight terrorism. But we consider that the complete blockade and the indiscriminate bombardment (of the Gaza Strip) are not likely to protect (…) the civilian populations,” added Emmanuel Macron.
The ceasefire requests, notably from the Palestinian Authority, were not supported by Brussels or Paris. The White House also suggested on Tuesday “pauses” to facilitate the delivery of aid, rather than a ceasefire which, “at this stage, would only benefit Hamas”. Washington does not hide its fears of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, while Israeli air raids have continued since the Hamas attack which murdered 1,400 people in Israel on October 7. On Friday, the army announced that its infantry had carried out a “targeted raid in the central sector of the Gaza Strip”, supported by “hunters and drones”, before withdrawing. This incursion, the second in a row, is seen as the prelude to a large-scale land offensive.
In the Gaza Strip, populated by 2.3 million inhabitants, the humanitarian aid arriving remains very insufficient. “Many more people will soon die” because of the total siege imposed on the enclave, warned Philippe Lazzarini, the director of the UN Agency (UNRWA), on Friday, launching an appeal for “significant and continuous” humanitarian aid. According to OCHA, citing Gaza’s Housing Ministry, 45% of homes have already been “damaged or destroyed.” The bombings killed more than 7,000 Palestinians, including some 2,900 children, according to the Hamas health ministry.
This figure was questioned by Washington and considered with “a certain caution” by Berlin. The head of UNRWA was surprised, recalling that in previous wars in Gaza, these reports provided by the Hamas authorities “were considered credible”. The list of 6,747 names specifies the sex, age and identity number of those killed.
The international community fears that the conflict in Gaza will lead to a conflagration in the region, while Iran, a powerful supporter of Hamas, has issued several warnings to this effect. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the United States carried out strikes on Thursday against two facilities used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and “affiliated groups” in eastern Syria.