Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded defiantly to French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a ceasefire amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Macron expressed concern over the bombing of civilians and the rising death toll, emphasizing that there is no justification for such actions. He highlighted the importance of protecting all lives and called on Israel to recognize this principle.
In contrast, Netanyahu rejected the idea of a ceasefire, stating that it would amount to surrendering to Hamas. He placed the blame for civilian harm on Hamas, asserting that Israel is not planning to reoccupy Palestinian territory but aims to create a better future for it. Netanyahu emphasized the need to demilitarize, deradicalize, and rebuild the impoverished and blockaded territory.
The war in Gaza, a densely populated area under blockade, has led to repeated calls for a ceasefire to protect civilian lives and allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid. The conflict has escalated near Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, where a strike resulted in the deaths of 13 people. Doctors Without Borders expressed extreme concern for the safety of patients and medical staff at the hospital. The Israeli army has accused Hamas of using hospitals, particularly Al-Shifa, as a base for coordinating attacks.
The Gaza health system is severely strained, with the head of the World Health Organization describing it as being “on its knees.” The International Committee of the Red Cross also warned that the healthcare system in Gaza has reached a point of no return, being overstretched, running on limited supplies, and increasingly unsafe.
The fighting in Gaza has been ongoing for over a month since Hamas launched a surprise attack on October 7, resulting in the death of over 1,200 people and the taking of 239 hostages. In response, Israel has conducted aerial bombings and ground offensives, resulting in the deaths of over 10,800 people in Gaza, mostly civilians and many children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
This conflict has also heightened tensions in the region, with exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels claim to have launched ballistic missiles at southern Israel. In response to these developments, Saudi Arabia is hosting emergency meetings of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, with the participation of Arab leaders and Iran’s president.
The situation in Gaza remains dire, with mounting pressure on Israel to protect civilians and address the humanitarian crisis. The international community continues to call for a ceasefire and the delivery of essential aid to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza.