Sseven days later Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel whose cruelty and scale have stunned the world and while the Israeli response promises to be mive, the words of the Head of State were expected. It was all the more so since France, which is home to the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe, fears a rise in tensions linked to the risk of importing the violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
President Emmanuel Macron fulfilled this task on Thursday evening, October 12, by finding the right words during a brief and sober televised speech., pronounced in a serious tone, to launch a call for unity and responsibility. The decision, announced a few hours later by the command of the Israeli army, to request the evacuation, in twenty-four hours, of more than a million Gazan civilians from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip, posing a immeasurable humanitarian challenge, makes this call all the more urgent in hindsight.
Mr. Macron first mentioned a dimension of this crisis which directly affects the French, thirteen nationals of whom have been killed and seventeen others are missing, some probably held hostage by Hamas, which the president unequivocally underlined the terrorist nature and design. This essment makes France the third foreign country most affected in terms of number of victims of the October 7 attack, after the United States and Thailand – which has 30,000 immigrant workers in Israel – and directly implicates it in d possible negotiations on the fate of the hundred hostages. France, ured the President of the Republic, “never abandon your children”.
It was also necessary to address the consequences, both international and national, of this new stage of a conflict in which, in a few days, nearly 3,000 people have already been killed in Israel and Gaza. Without launching into premature proposals for resolving the diplomatic crisis while the war rages, the President of the Republic clearly recalled France’s position in favor of two States, an Israeli State whose security must be guaranteed and a State Palestinian, “indissociable whole” constituting the conditions for a very distant peace.
Repercussions of the conflict in France
He also usefully recalled the requirements of international law, “duty of democracies”regarding the protection of civilian populations in times of war – even if this reminder, addressed to the Israeli government, could undoubtedly have been accompanied by a formula to deplore the civilian losses already caused in Gaza by the IDF bombings.
But it is above all on the repercussions of the conflict in France that Mr. Macron was expected. “Let us not add national fractures to international fractures and let us not give in to any form of hatred”, he warned. This is indeed the danger that threatens, while the Ministry of the Interior has recorded more than 100 anti-Semitic acts in six days, compared to 436 in the whole of 2022. The Head of State rightly wanted to unifier, explicitly citing in turn “our compatriots of the Jewish faith” And “our compatriots of the Muslim faith”. He wanted to be reuring, too, by promising to fight “always, so that no one on our soil is afraid”, and recalling that the French had been able to go through the ordeal of terrorism on their soil together.
This essential call to “maintain a shield of unity” had been preceded by a meeting with the leaders of the political parties. “Those who confuse the Palestinian cause and the justification for terrorism commit a moral, political and strategic error,” Mr. Macron said again. A message transmitted without naming anyone, for the sake of unity.