Middle East, Europe

French president slams Israel's 'heinous' Gaza actions

France remains committed to respecting human lives and security of Israel, says French president

French president slams Israel's 'heinous' Gaza actions

By Hajer M'tiri


President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday condemned Israel's "heinous acts" of targeting unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip as he denied any French complacency.

"At this point I am very clear: France has condemned these heinous acts -- and these civilian casualties -- that were committed, especially on Monday and continued in the last hours," Macron told a news conference in Sofia after an EU-Western Balkans Summit.

"In the same way, France has called for peaceful demonstrations and has strongly condemned all the statements made by Hamas and all the movements that have endangered the security of Israel," he said.

"It is this balance that we have from the beginning and, therefore, there is no complacency towards anyone but a deep commitment to respect human lives and the security of Israel."

Thousands of Palestinians had gathered on the Gaza Strip’s eastern border to take part in protests marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel -- the Nakba ("Catastrophe") -- and protest the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

On Monday, at least 62 Palestinian demonstrators were martyred and thousands more injured by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza-Israel fence, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Since the Gaza rallies began on March 30, more than 100 Palestinian demonstrators have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire.

Last week, the Israeli government claimed the ongoing border protests constitute a “state of war” in which international humanitarian law does not apply.

Iran nuclear deal

Macron said he was convinced U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal will benefit Russian and Chinese companies in Iran.

He said his country will not get into a trade war against the United States over Iran despite France’s disapproval of Trump's decision.

"We’re not going to choose one camp over another. We’re not going to be the allies of Iran against the United States of America," he said.

He added the European Union must protect companies doing business in Iran and provide all guarantees to be able to continue their work.

French oil and gas group Total on Wednesday announced it might stop a multibillion-dollar project in Iran unless it is granted a waiver by U.S. authorities.

"We’re not going to impose on French businesses to stay in Iran. The President of the French Republic is not the CEO of Total," the French leader added.

Macron recalled that the agreement with Iran is still valid for the EU countries and that the UK and Germany have adopted the same position of France to continue with the agreement.

European Council President, Donald Tusk, said all 28 member countries had pledged their commitment to the agreement “as long as Iran remains fully committed to it”.

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