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Israel's goal to destroy Hamas risks decade of war: Macron

Tan KW
Publish date: Sun, 03 Dec 2023, 05:35 PM
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DUBAI: French President Emmanuel Macron warned Saturday that Israel's aim of eliminating Hamas risked unleashing a decade of war.

"I think we're at a point where the Israeli authorities are going to have to define their objective and desired end state more precisely," Macron said at a press conference on the sidelines of the UN's COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

During an unprecedented attack on Oct 7, Hamas fighters broke through Gaza's militarised border into Israel, killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 240 Israelis and foreigners hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas in response and unleashed an air and ground campaign that has killed more than 15,000 people, also mostly civilians, the Hamas authorities who run Gaza say.

"What is the total destruction of Hamas, and does anyone think it's possible? If it is, the war will last 10 years," Macron said on Saturday.

After the Israeli army resumed shelling the Gaza Strip on Friday following the collapse of a week-long truce, Macron spoke of the need for "stepped-up efforts to reach a lasting ceasefire" in the conflict.

Macron travelled to Doha on Saturday to meet with Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, whose government has been central to diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

But his five-hour stopover in Doha came just after the departure of the Israeli negotiators, with Israel citing a "stalemate" in the talks.

Israel and Hamas blamed each other for the breakdown of the truce, which before it expired had enabled the release of 80 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

The Israeli army said it had carried out more than 400 strikes in Gaza since the collapse of the ceasefire, while Hamas announced "rocket barrages" against multiple Israeli cities and towns including Tel Aviv.

Macron had planned to make an extensive tour of the Middle East but instead held meetings about the conflict on the sidelines of UN climate talks.

Neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas attended the Dubai summit.

In October, Macron met with Netanyahu in Israel.

Analysts say Macron's visits to Dubai and Doha illustrate the difficulty his government faces in finding a way to influence the conflict.

"France and Macron are not really finding their place in this crisis," said Agnes Levallois, vice-president of the Institute for Mediterranean Middle East Research and Studies (IREMMO).

 - AFP

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