Israel's goal to destroy Hamas 'risks decade of war', France's Macron warns

Israel's goal to destroy Hamas 'risks decade of war', France's Macron warns
At a press conference in Dubai, France's President Emmanuel Macron warned that Israel's vow to "eliminate Hamas" could make the war in Gaza last for a decade.
3 min read
03 December, 2023
Macron's comments came as he met with Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who has mediated significantly between Israel and Hamas [Getty/file photo]

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.

Israel began its indiscriminate bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip on October 7, killing more than 15,000 Palestinians amid a complete siege of the territory, which has deprived 2.3 million people of food, water and fuel.

Israel has also gone on to target hospitals, schools, refugee camps and more, amid accusations of carrying out war crimes by several rights groups and nations.

Israel's military campaign has been carried out in response to Hamas' surprise cross-border attack, which killed 1,200 Israelis. The group also took hostage over 200 Israeli nationals, as well as a number of foreigners.

"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.

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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).