Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Western leaders not to bow to pressure from those calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that French President Emmanuel Macron “made a mistake” by calling for the IDF to stop bombing civilians in the Palestinian enclave.
During a press conference on Saturday, Netanyahu said that Israel was “truly doing everything to minimize harm to civilians” but would not give Hamas “a license” to murder its citizens without a response, according to the Times of Israel.
On Friday, Macron told the BBC that he “clearly condemns” the Hamas attack on Israel. However, he also said that “de facto – today – civilians are bombed,” pointing out that “there is no reason for that and no legitimacy,” urging Israel to stop. He added that a humanitarian ceasefire was the only solution to protect all civilians in Gaza.
Commenting on Macron’s remarks, Netanyahu said that “he made a serious mistake, factually and morally. It is Hamas preventing the evacuation of civilians, not Israel.”
He argued that Hamas was firing on the safe corridor set up to evacuate northern Gazans, and using the enclave’s population as human shields. Netanyahu claimed that while Hamas militants were targeting and slaughtering Israeli civilians, they were also hiding behind ordinary Palestinians, committing double war crimes.
“If we sanctify this method of the terrorists, that they can situate themselves in the middle of the civilian population… then we guarantee that these things will continue to spread,” he said, addressing the French president and all other leaders.
On the same day as Macron’s statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “far too many” Palestinians had died in Israel’s retaliation against Hamas militants in Gaza and noted that Washington was trying to convince West Jerusalem to impose longer “humanitarian pauses,” without giving details.
On October 7, Hamas attacked Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking hostage 240, according to Israeli officials. In response, Netanyahu declared the country to be at war, launching massive air strikes and a ground operation in Gaza. Palestinian officials say the death toll on their side has exceeded 11,000, with the majority being children and women.