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A Palestinian and a child inspect the destruction caused by an Israeli strike yesterday

Hamas says at least 140 killed in overnight strikes as French President Macron arrives in Israel

More than 5,000 people, most of them women and children, have died during Israel’s attacks on Gaza, according to numbers given by the Hamas-run health ministry.

LAST UPDATE | 24 Oct 2023

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL Macron has arrived in Tel Aviv to express his country’s “full solidarity” with Israel after the deadly 7 October attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

His visit comes more than two weeks after Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip and killed at least 1,400 people.

Mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burned to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials.

Among them were 30 French citizens.

Macron is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express France’s “full solidarity” with Israel after that attack, the French presidency said.

He is also expected to call for the “preservation of the civilian population” in Gaza, amid Israel’s relentless bombardment, and as it prepares for a ground invasion of the overcrowded Palestinian enclave.

More than 5,000 people, most of them women and children, have died during Israel’s attacks, according to numbers given by the Hamas-run health ministry.

The Hamas government today said that Israeli air strikes on the besieged territory overnight killed at least 140 people.

A statement from the government’s media office said “more than 140 people were martyred and hundreds wounded in massacres committed by the occupation (Israel) raids”.

Meanwhile, six workers with the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency were killed in just 24 hours in Gaza, the United Nations said today, bringing to 35 the total of its staff killed since 7 October.

french-president-emmanuel-macron-arrives-at-the-ben-gurion-airport-tuesday-oct-24-2023-in-tel-aviv-emmanuel-macron-is-traveling-to-israel-to-show-frances-solidarity-with-the-country-and-further French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv this morning Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Humanitarian and aid workers have not been spared in more than two weeks of relentless Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip after Hamas gunmen carried out the worst attack in Israel’s 75-year history.

“Since the start of hostilities, at least 16 health workers have been killed while on duty, along with 35 UNRWA staff,” the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA said in an update sent today on the situation up to Monday evening.


Macron will in particular call for a “humanitarian truce” to allow desperately needed aid into Gaza, whose 2.4 million people have been largely deprived of water, food, electricity and other basic supplies after an Israeli blockade, the Elysee Palace said.

Macron and Netanyahu are due to hold a joint press conference at 1:00pm (11:00 Irish time).

The French head of state is also due to meet Israeli President Isaac Herzog, as well as opposition leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid in Jerusalem.

And in Tel Aviv, he is due to meet the families of French and French-Israeli nationals killed in the Hamas attack or being held hostage in Gaza.

Seven French citizens are still missing: one of them, a French woman, has been confirmed as among the more than 200 people Israel says were taken hostage by Hamas.

Macron has said the others are also thought to be hostages, but there has not yet been confirmation.

Yesterday, Hamas released two further hostages, three days after an American woman and her teenage daughter were let go.

Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and their octogenarian husbands were among the hostages seized on 7 October.

Sharone Lifschitz, the daugther of Yocheved Lifshitz, said last night in a statement: “I can confirm that my mother Yochi Lifshitz was one of two hostages released to the Red Cross this evening.

“While I cannot put into words the relief that she is now safe, I will remain focused on securing the release of my father and all those, some 200 innocent people, who remain hostages in Gaza.”

Speaking to the BBC, Sharon said her mother “seems okay”.

“She is very sharp and is very keen to share the information, pass on the information to families of other hostages she was with.”

Hamas released both women yesterday citing “compelling humanitarian” reasons, after mediation by Qatar and Egypt.

Qatar is seen as a key mediator in the Middle East conflict, with Doha using its ties to Hamas – a number of figures from the Gaza-ruling group’s political wing are said to live in the country – to negotiate for the release of about 220 hostages taken during the deadly assault on Israel more than two weeks ago.

‘True peace process’

The French president also aims to continue efforts “to avoid a dangerous escalation in the region”, the Elysee said, amid growing alarm over swelling cross-border exchanges between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Macron will propose relaunching a “true peace process”, with the aim of creating a viable Palestinian state in exchange for guarantees from regional powers towards “Israel’s security”.

There will also probably be exchanges with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and leaders of Gulf nations, the Elysee said.

US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have already visited Israel.

-© AFP 2023 with additional reporting from Press Association