France sending warship to provide medical aid to Gaza

PARIS: France is preparing to send its Dixmude helicopter carrier to the eastern Mediterranean to offer medical assistance in war-torn Gaza, the office of the French president said Sunday.

The Dixmude will set sail “at the start of the week and arrive in Egypt in the coming days,” President Emmanuel Macron’s office said.

A charter flight carrying more than 10 tonnes of medical supplies is also planned for the start of the week.

“France will also contribute to the European effort with medical equipment on board European flights on November 23 and 30,” the presidential office said.

It added that “France is mobilising all its available means to contribute to the evacuation of wounded and sick children requiring emergency care from the Gaza Strip to its hospitals”.

Macron said later on X, formerly Twitter, that up to 50 children could be flown for treatment in hospitals in France “if useful and necessary”.

Israel has vowed to destroy Gaza’s rulers Hamas after the Palestinian militant group carried out the deadliest attack in the country’s history on October 7.

About 1,200 people, most of them civilians, were killed in Israel during Hamas’s October 7 attack and around 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

In Gaza, 13,000 people, mainly civilians and more than 5,000 of them children, have been killed by Israel’s military response, according to Hamas officials.

Macron told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu there were “too many civilian losses” in Gaza, his office said Sunday.

The French leader also reminded Netanyahu of the “absolute necessity to distinguish terrorists from the population” and “the importance of achieving an immediate humanitarian truce leading to a ceasefire”.

Macron on Saturday spoke with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi about ongoing negotiations to free hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

French defence minister Sebastien Lecornu on Saturday was in Qatar, which is leading the mediation efforts.

The French president and his Egyptian counterpart agreed on the “need to increase the number of trucks entering Gaza and to reinforce coordination to deliver humanitarian aid and treat the wounded,” Macron’s office said.

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