US Navy Seizes Attackers Who Held Israel-Linked Tanker, Houthi Missiles Follow 

In an undated photo released by Zodiac Maritime, the tanker Central Park is seen. Attackers seized the tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Aden, Yemen, on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, authorities said. (Zodiac Maritime via AP)
In an undated photo released by Zodiac Maritime, the tanker Central Park is seen. Attackers seized the tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Aden, Yemen, on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, authorities said. (Zodiac Maritime via AP)
TT

US Navy Seizes Attackers Who Held Israel-Linked Tanker, Houthi Missiles Follow 

In an undated photo released by Zodiac Maritime, the tanker Central Park is seen. Attackers seized the tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Aden, Yemen, on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, authorities said. (Zodiac Maritime via AP)
In an undated photo released by Zodiac Maritime, the tanker Central Park is seen. Attackers seized the tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Aden, Yemen, on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, authorities said. (Zodiac Maritime via AP)

Armed assailants seized and later let go of a tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Yemen on Sunday before being apprehended by the United States Navy, officials said. Two ballistic missiles fired from the Houthi militias in Yemen then landed near a US warship aiding the tanker in the Gulf of Aden, raising the stakes amid a series of ship attacks linked to the Israel-Hamas war. 

Yemen's legitimate government blamed the Iranian-backed Houthis for the attack, though the militias, in control of the capital, Sanaa, did not acknowledge either the seizure or the missile attack. 

The attackers seized the Liberian-flagged Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime, in the Gulf of Aden, the company, the US and British militaries and private intelligence firm Ambrey said. 

The US military's Central Command said in a statement early Monday that its forces and allies, including the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason, responded to the seizure and demanded the armed assailants release the tanker. 

“Subsequently, five armed individuals debarked the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat,” Central Command said. “The Mason pursued the attackers resulting in their eventual surrender.” 

The Central Command did not identify the attackers, but said a missile launch from Yemen followed early Monday morning. 

“The missiles landed in the Gulf of Aden approximately 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) from the ships,” the statement said. “The USS Mason … was concluding its response to the M/V Central Park distress call at the time of the missile launches. There was no damage or reported injuries from either vessel during this incident.” 

Early Monday morning, Zodiac said the vessel carrying phosphoric acid and its crew of 22 sailors from Bulgaria, Georgia, India, the Philippines, Russia, Türkiye and Vietnam were unharmed. 

“We would like to thank the coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law,” the company said. 

Zodiac described the vessel as being owned by Clumvez Shipping Inc., though other records directly linked Zodiac as the owner. London-based Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. British corporate records listed two men with the last name Ofer as a current and former director of Clumvez Shipping, including Daniel Guy Ofer, who is also a director at Zodiac Maritime. 

Yemen's legitimate government, which is based out of nearby Aden, blamed the Houthis for the seizure in a statement carried by their state-run news agency. 

“The Yemeni government has renewed its denunciation of the acts of maritime piracy carried out by the terrorist Houthi militias with the support of the Iranian regime, the most recent of which was the hijacking of the Central Park,” the statement read. 

Zodiac Maritime has been targeted previously amid a wider yearslong shadow war between Iran and Israel. In 2021, a drone attack assessed by the US and other Western nations to have been carried out by Iran killed two crew members aboard Zodiac's oil tanker Mercer Street off the coast of Oman. 

The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which provides warnings to sailors in the Middle East, had earlier issued a warning to sailors that “two black-and-white craft carrying eight persons in military-style clothing” had been seen in the area. 

The UKMTO put the Central Park's location over 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Yemen's coast, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Djibouti and around 110 kilometers (70 miles) northeast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, a key shipping route. 

The Central Park seizure comes after a container ship, CMA CGM Symi, owned by another Israeli billionaire, came under attack Friday by a suspected Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean. Iran has not acknowledged carrying out the attack, nor did it respond to questions from The Associated Press about that assault. 

Both the Symi and the Central Park had been behaving as if they faced a threat in recent days. 

The ships had switched off their Automatic Identification System trackers, according to data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by the AP. Ships are supposed to keep their AIS active for safety reasons, but crews will turn them off if it appears they might be targeted. In the Central Park's case, the vessel had last transmitted four days ago after it left the Suez Canal heading south into the Red Sea. 

Global shipping had increasingly been targeted as the Israel-Hamas war threatens to become a wider regional conflict — even as a truce has halted fighting and Hamas exchanges hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. 

Earlier in November, the Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship also linked to Israel in the Red Sea off Yemen. The militias still hold the vessel off the port city of Hodeidah. 

However, the Houthis had not directly targeted the Americans for some time, further raising the stakes in the growing maritime conflict. In 2016, the US launched Tomahawk cruise missiles that destroyed three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory to retaliate for missiles being fired at US Navy ships, including the USS Mason, at the time. 

Meanwhile on Sunday, the American aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower traveled through the Strait of Hormuz and entered the Arabian Gulf, the US military said. The Eisenhower was accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, the guided-missile destroyers USS Gravely and the USS Stethem and the French frigate Languedoc. 



RSF: We Don’t Have Heavy Weapons, Sudanese Army Is Shelling Cities

People are seen getting on a bus to leave Khartoum, Sudan. (AP)
People are seen getting on a bus to leave Khartoum, Sudan. (AP)
TT

RSF: We Don’t Have Heavy Weapons, Sudanese Army Is Shelling Cities

People are seen getting on a bus to leave Khartoum, Sudan. (AP)
People are seen getting on a bus to leave Khartoum, Sudan. (AP)

Ammar al-Siddiq, member of the foreign consultative council of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, denied claims that the RSF was shelling residential areas in cities, saying the forces don't have those kinds of weapons.

Speaking to the Arab World Press, he blamed the army for the attacks on these areas. He also accused it of recruiting child soldiers.

In a statement on Friday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk accused the RSF of recruiting hundreds of children in the Darfur region. He also said the military was recruiting children in eastern parts of Sudan.

Turk warned that such practices are flagrant violations of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC).

“Also troubling are the reports of civilians themselves mobilizing under the new Popular Armed Resistance movement. There are real fears this may result in the formation of an armed civil militia with no defined control, increasing the chances of Sudan sliding into a spiral of protracted civil war,” he warned.

Siddiq dismissed Turk's claims, saying the RSF has denied such accusations on several occasions.

Moreover, he revealed that the RSF found several reports, has acquired testimonies and videos that showed children and minors recruited at military camps in response to recruitment calls made by army commander Abdul Fattah al-Burhan.

He further denied that the RSF possesses heavy weapons, accusing the army of air raids that have killed scores of women, children and soldiers.

He stressed that the RSF only possesses anti-aircraft weapons that are aimed at drones, jets and army locations.

The RSF, he stressed, has the army surrounded in specific areas, so its attacks are focused on military camps, such as in Babanusa town and the Al Mohandiseen and Seidna areas in Omdurman.

In his statement, Turk added: “In the space of eleven months, at least 14,600 people have been killed, and 26,000 others injured. Actual figures are undoubtedly much higher. The toll encompasses thousands of civilians, including many children and women.”


Hochstein to Visit Beirut Seeking to Ease Israel-Lebanon Tensions

US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein meets with Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut, Lebanon June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein meets with Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut, Lebanon June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
TT

Hochstein to Visit Beirut Seeking to Ease Israel-Lebanon Tensions

US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein meets with Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut, Lebanon June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein meets with Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut, Lebanon June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

Senior White House adviser Amos Hochstein is expected to arrive early next week in Beirut for talks with Lebanese officials as part of efforts to appease the situation along the Israel-Lebanon border.
Unnamed informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that Hochstein’s talks with Lebanese officials will “carry new developments” regarding his shuttle talks between Tel Aviv and Beirut in parallel with the talks aiming for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Hochstein had visited Beirut in January in a bid to explore the possibility of talks on drawing the land border between Lebanon and Israel, after having mediated a 2022 deal setting the maritime borders between the two countries.
After meeting several officials then, he said that “we are living a moment of crisis”, and that there is a great need to find a diplomatic solution.
He stressed the need for reaching a diplomatic solution that allows Lebanese people to return to their homes in the south, and the Israelis to return to their homes in the north.
Hochstein’s talks with officials in Lebanon focused on the need for a ceasefire and the implementation of UN resolution 1701, in addition to Hezbollah’s withdrawal from the area between the border and the Litani River.


Ship Sunk by Houthis Threatens Red Sea Environment

A handout photo made available by Yemeni Al-Joumhouriya TV shows the British-registered cargo vessel, Rubymar, sinking after being damaged in a missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, 26 February 2024 (issued 27 February 2024). EPA/Yemeni Al-Joumhouriya TV
A handout photo made available by Yemeni Al-Joumhouriya TV shows the British-registered cargo vessel, Rubymar, sinking after being damaged in a missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, 26 February 2024 (issued 27 February 2024). EPA/Yemeni Al-Joumhouriya TV
TT

Ship Sunk by Houthis Threatens Red Sea Environment

A handout photo made available by Yemeni Al-Joumhouriya TV shows the British-registered cargo vessel, Rubymar, sinking after being damaged in a missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, 26 February 2024 (issued 27 February 2024). EPA/Yemeni Al-Joumhouriya TV
A handout photo made available by Yemeni Al-Joumhouriya TV shows the British-registered cargo vessel, Rubymar, sinking after being damaged in a missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, 26 February 2024 (issued 27 February 2024). EPA/Yemeni Al-Joumhouriya TV

 A UK-owned ship attacked by Houthi militants last month sank in the Red Sea, the US military confirmed on Saturday, as it echoed a warning from Yemen's internationally recognized government that the vessel's cargo of hazardous fertilizer posed a risk to marine life.
The Belize-registered Rubymar is the first vessel lost since the Houthis began targeting commercial ships in November. Those drone and missile assaults have forced shipping firms to divert ships to the longer route around southern Africa, disrupting global trade by delaying deliveries and sending costs higher, Reuters said.
The sinking bulk carrier also "presents a subsurface impact risk to other ships transiting the busy shipping lanes of the waterway," US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in its statement on social media platform X.
The Iran-aligned Houthis, who control the north of Yemen and other large centers, say their campaign is a show of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.
The Houthi attacks have prompted a series of strikes against their positions by the United States and Britain, and have led other navies to send vessels to the region to try to protect the vital Suez Canal trade route.
The Rubymar went down in the southern Red Sea late on Friday or early on Saturday, according to statements from the Yemen government and CENTCOM.
The US military previously said the Feb. 18 missile attack had significantly damaged the bulk vessel and caused an 18-mile (29-km) oil slick. The ship was carrying about 21,000 metric tons of fertilizer, CENTCOM said on Saturday.
Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, the foreign minister in Yemen's internationally recognized government in Aden, said in a post on X: "The sinking of the Rubymar is an environmental catastrophe that Yemen and the region have never experienced before.
"It is a new tragedy for our country and our people. Every day we pay the price for the adventures of the Houthi militia ..."
MARINE LIFE THREATENED
The release of such large amounts of fertilizer into the Red Sea poses a serious threat to marine life, said Ali Al-Sawalmih, director of the Marine Science Station at the University of Jordan.
The overload of nutrients can stimulate excessive growth of algae, using up so much oxygen that regular marine life cannot survive, said Al-Sawalmih, describing a process called eutrophication.
"An urgent plan should be adopted by countries of the Red Sea to establish a monitoring agenda of the polluted areas in the Red Sea as well as adopt a cleanup strategy," he said.
The overall impact depends on how ocean currents deplete the fertilizer and how it is released from the stricken vessel, said Xingchen Tony Wang, assistant professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Boston College.
The ecosystem of the southern Red Sea features pristine coral reefs, coastal mangroves and diverse marine life.
Last year, the area avoided a potential environmental disaster when the United Nations removed more than 1 million barrels of oil from a decaying supertanker moored off the Yemen coast. That type of operation may be more difficult in the current circumstances.
The Houthi attacks have stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could spread, destabilizing the wider Middle East.
In a separate report, the UKMTO agency said it had received a report of a ship being attacked 15 nautical miles west of Yemen's port of Mokha.
"The crew took the vessel to anchor and were evacuated by military authorities," the UKMTO said in an advisory note.
Italy's defense ministry also said that one of its naval ships had shot down a drone flying towards it in the Red Sea.
The Houthi Transport Ministry, meanwhile, said there had been a "glitch" in undersea communication cables in the Red Sea as a result of actions by US and British naval vessels. It did not give further details. 


US: Israel Agreed to Framework for Gaza Ceasefire, Hamas Now Must Decide

A damaged building from Gaza is pictured, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as seen from Southern Israel, March 2, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
A damaged building from Gaza is pictured, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as seen from Southern Israel, March 2, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
TT

US: Israel Agreed to Framework for Gaza Ceasefire, Hamas Now Must Decide

A damaged building from Gaza is pictured, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as seen from Southern Israel, March 2, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
A damaged building from Gaza is pictured, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as seen from Southern Israel, March 2, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israel has essentially endorsed a framework of a proposed Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal, and it is now up to Hamas to agree to it, a senior US administration official said Saturday, a day before talks to reach an agreement were to resume in Egypt.
International mediators have been working for weeks to broker a deal to pause the fighting before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins around March 10. A deal would also likely allow aid to reach hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians in northern Gaza who aid officials worry are under threat of famine.
The Israelis “have more or less accepted” the proposal, which includes the six-week ceasefire as well as the release by Hamas of hostages considered vulnerable, which includes the sick, the wounded, the elderly and women, said the official.
“Right now, the ball is in the court of Hamas and we are continuing to push this as hard as we possibly can,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House to brief reporters.

A senior Egyptian official said mediators Egypt and Qatar are expected to receive a response from Hamas during the Cairo talks scheduled to start Sunday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not publicly authorized to discuss the sensitive talks.


US Military Planes Airdrop About 38,000 Meals Into Gaza

Children look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a Mosque and makeshift shelters that were destroyed in Israeli strikes in Deir El-Balah in central Gaza on March 2, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Children look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a Mosque and makeshift shelters that were destroyed in Israeli strikes in Deir El-Balah in central Gaza on March 2, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
TT

US Military Planes Airdrop About 38,000 Meals Into Gaza

Children look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a Mosque and makeshift shelters that were destroyed in Israeli strikes in Deir El-Balah in central Gaza on March 2, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Children look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a Mosque and makeshift shelters that were destroyed in Israeli strikes in Deir El-Balah in central Gaza on March 2, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

US military C-130 cargo planes on Saturday dropped food in pallets over Gaza, the first American airdrop of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian enclave, three US officials said.
Three planes from Air Forces Central dropped 66 bundles containing about 38,000 meals into Gaza at 8:30 a.m. EST, according to two of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity before a public announcement.
The airdrop is expected to be the first of many announced by President Joe Biden on Friday. The aid will be coordinated with Jordan.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Friday that the airdrops were being planned to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance in a safe way to people on the ground.
The C-130 cargo plane is a widely used military jet to deliver aid to remote places due to its ability to land in austere environments and cargo capacity.
A C-130 can airlift as much as 42,000 pounds of cargo and its crews know how to rig the cargo, which sometimes can include even vehicles, onto massive pallets can be safely dropped out of the back of the aircraft.
Air Force loadmasters secure the bundles onto pallets with netting that is rigged for release in the back of a C-130, and then crews release it with a parachute when the aircraft reaches the intended delivery zone.

Other countries including France, Egypt and Jordan have carried out airdrops of aid into Gaza.

At least 576,000 people in the Gaza Strip - one quarter of the enclave's population - are one step from famine, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


Ship Attacked by Houthis Sinks in Red Sea

A handout photo shows the British-registered cargo vessel, Rubymar, sinking after being damaged in a missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, 26 February 2024 (issued 27 February 2024).  EPA
A handout photo shows the British-registered cargo vessel, Rubymar, sinking after being damaged in a missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, 26 February 2024 (issued 27 February 2024). EPA
TT

Ship Attacked by Houthis Sinks in Red Sea

A handout photo shows the British-registered cargo vessel, Rubymar, sinking after being damaged in a missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, 26 February 2024 (issued 27 February 2024).  EPA
A handout photo shows the British-registered cargo vessel, Rubymar, sinking after being damaged in a missile attack by the Houthis in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, 26 February 2024 (issued 27 February 2024). EPA

A ship attacked by Yemen's Houthi militias has sunk in the Red Sea after days of taking on water, officials said Saturday.

The Rubymar had been drifting after the attack in February. It marks the first ship sunk by the Houthis amid their monthslong attacks on shipping in the vital waterway.

Yemen's internationally recognized government, as well as a regional military official, confirmed the ship sank. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the information had not been cleared for publication.

A statement issued by the Yemeni Foreign Ministry on Friday urged all concerned nations and regional and international organizations tasked with preserving maritime environments to take swift practical action to save the Red Sea from an imminent environmental catastrophe.

“Leaving the ship to its fate will result in serious harm to marine ecosystems and hundreds of thousands of Yemenis who rely on fishing, as well as potential damage to desalination plants along the Yemeni coast,” said the statement.


Palestinian Authority Hopes for Gaza Ceasefire by Ramadan

Palestinians inspect the destroyed Al Bokhari mosque following an Israeli airstrike in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 02 March 2024. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
Palestinians inspect the destroyed Al Bokhari mosque following an Israeli airstrike in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 02 March 2024. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
TT

Palestinian Authority Hopes for Gaza Ceasefire by Ramadan

Palestinians inspect the destroyed Al Bokhari mosque following an Israeli airstrike in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 02 March 2024. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
Palestinians inspect the destroyed Al Bokhari mosque following an Israeli airstrike in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 02 March 2024. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

The Palestinian Authority hopes a ceasefire can be agreed in the Gaza war in time for Ramadan, its foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said on Saturday.

Speaking at a news conference at a diplomatic forum in Antalya, Türkiye, Maliki said the PA would be "the only legitimate authority" to run Gaza after the war.

The PA, which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007.

Israel and Hamas have been negotiating through mediators over a possible ceasefire in Gaza, with the aim of halting fighting in time for Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, due to begin this year on March 10.


Gaza Ceasefire Talks to Resume in Cairo on Sunday, Egyptian Security Sources Say

A general view shows Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt July 13, 2020. (Reuters)
A general view shows Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt July 13, 2020. (Reuters)
TT

Gaza Ceasefire Talks to Resume in Cairo on Sunday, Egyptian Security Sources Say

A general view shows Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt July 13, 2020. (Reuters)
A general view shows Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt July 13, 2020. (Reuters)

Gaza ceasefire negotiations are due to resume in Cairo on Sunday, two Egyptian security sources said on Saturday.

The parties have agreed on the duration of a Gaza truce, as well as hostage and prisoner releases, they said.

The completion of the deal still requires an agreement on the withdrawal of Israeli forces from northern Gaza and a return of its residents, they added, according to Reuters.

The sources said that an incident on Thursday incident in which more than 100 Palestinians seeking aid were killed by Israeli fire according to Gazan authorities, had not slowed down the talks, but instead pushed negotiators to hasten in order to preserve progress.


Israeli Strike Kills 3 Hezbollah Fighters in Lebanon

A view shows an Israeli tank and military vehicles near Israel's border with Lebanon in northern Israel, October 9 - REUTERS
A view shows an Israeli tank and military vehicles near Israel's border with Lebanon in northern Israel, October 9 - REUTERS
TT

Israeli Strike Kills 3 Hezbollah Fighters in Lebanon

A view shows an Israeli tank and military vehicles near Israel's border with Lebanon in northern Israel, October 9 - REUTERS
A view shows an Israeli tank and military vehicles near Israel's border with Lebanon in northern Israel, October 9 - REUTERS

An Israeli drone strike killed three Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon on Saturday, security sources in Lebanon said, the latest to die in months of cross-border hostilities that have been fought in parallel to the Gaza war.

The men were killed when the car they were in was targeted on a coastal road near the town of Naqoura, the sources said. The Israeli army said it was checking reports on the incident, The Associated Press reported.

Israeli strikes since October have killed more than 200 Hezbollah fighters and some 50 civilians in Lebanon, while attacks from Lebanon into Israel have killed a dozen Israeli soldiers and five civilians. Tens of thousands of Israelis and Lebanese have fled villages on both sides of the frontier.

Hezbollah signalled this week that it would halt its attacks if Israel's Gaza offensive stops, but it is also ready to keep on fighting if the Gaza war continues. On Friday, Hezbollah announced the deaths of four members killed in Lebanon.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant last Sunday indicated that Israel planned to increase attacks on Hezbollah in the event of a Gaza ceasefire, but was open to a diplomatic deal to withdraw Hezbollah fighters from the border.

Lebanon's caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati told Reuters on Thursday a halt to fighting in Gaza as early as next week would trigger indirect talks to end hostilities at the border.


France Demands Justice after Shooting of Palestinians in Gaza

France's President Emmanuel Macron, surrounded by officials, attends the inauguration ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic village in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron, surrounded by officials, attends the inauguration ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic village in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)
TT

France Demands Justice after Shooting of Palestinians in Gaza

France's President Emmanuel Macron, surrounded by officials, attends the inauguration ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic village in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron, surrounded by officials, attends the inauguration ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic village in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday he was angered by what Gaza authorities said was the shooting of more than 100 Palestinians seeking humanitarian aid and demanded "truth and justice" regarding the role of Israeli soldiers in the incident.
Gaza health authorities said Israeli forces on Thursday shot dead more than 100 Palestinians as they waited for an aid delivery.
Israel blamed the deaths on crowds that surrounded aid trucks, saying victims had been trampled or run over. An Israeli official also said troops had "in a limited response" later fired on crowds they felt had posed a threat. He dismissed the casualty toll given by Gaza authorities but gave no figure himself.
"Deep indignation at the images coming from Gaza where civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers. I express my strongest condemnation of these shootings and call for truth, justice, and respect for international law," Macron said in a post on X.
He said it was imperative for an immediate ceasefire in the war to be put in place.
Speaking on France Inter radio on Friday, Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said Paris would back the United Nations' call for an independent investigation.
"The humanitarian situation has been catastrophic for several weeks now and what happened is indefensible and unjustifiable. Israel needs to be able to hear it and it needs to stop," Sejourne told France Inter.
"We have gone a step further, people are fighting for food and there are riots. I heard the request from the Secretary General of the United Nations to open an independent investigation.”

France would not apply "double standards" to the Mideast conflict, Sejourne said, adding: "France calls things by their name".

"This applies when we designate Hamas as a terrorist group, but we must also call things by their name when there are atrocities in Gaza."

If an investigation should conclude that the Israeli shooting was a war crime, "then obviously this becomes a matter for the judiciary", he said.

Sejourne also said the thought of people dying of hunger in Gaza was "unbearable" for France.