‘Collective punishment’: Int’l humanitarian law ‘prohibits depriving civilians of basic needs’

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday harshly condemned the bombardment of civilian infrastructure in the war raging between Israel and Hamas, while defending France’s “balanced” approach to the conflict. He was answering a question about the Israeli military raid Wednesday on Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, as part of their war on Hamas, sparking fears for thousands of patients and other civilians said to be trapped inside. Macron did not mention the hospital by name, but stressed that the obligations under international law to protect civilian infrastructure referred “not only to the buildings, but to the health workers inside”, recalling that dozens of workers for humanitarian agencies had been killed in just over a month of fighting in Gaza. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in response to attacks on Israel on October 7, which officials say killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw about 240 hostages taken to Gaza. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israel’s ensuing aerial bombardment and ground offensive has killed 11,320 people, also mostly civilians, including thousands of children. Macron on Wednesday also rejected criticism that France had lacked clarity in its position on the war. He acknowledged that France’s approach might not be to everyone’s liking, pointing out that the country had faced criticism from both sides. Macron has faced rare diplomatic dissent at home over his stance, with a dozen French ambassadors in Middle Eastern and North African countries signing a joint memorandum this week deploring what they allege is his pro-Israeli bias. For more on the harrowing plight of civilians in war-torn Gaza, FRANCE 24’s Mark Owen is joined by Mara Bernasconi, Policy & Advocacy Advisor for the Middle East at Handicap International.