French President Emmanuel Macron gave opening remarks on Thursday in Paris at an aid conference for Gaza, stressing that “all lives have equal worth.”
Representatives from more than 50 nations, including the U.S. and several Arab states, were in attendance. Israeli officials weren’t invited but were informed of the meeting in advance, Macron’s press office said.
Macron appealed for a humanitarian pause in Israel’s counteroffensive against Hamas, saying that ensuring the safety of civilians is “non-negotiable.”
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, around 1.5 million Palestinians – roughly 70% of Gaza’s population – have been forced to flee their homes because of Israeli air and ground attacks, prompted by the devastating October 7 Hamas assault on southern Israel. The Israeli government says it left 1,400 people dead.
More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.
The Paris forum hosted diplomats from the West and Middle East, as well as NGOs and U.N. dignitaries, with the goal of quickly mobilizing support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who are stuck in the worst humanitarian crisis there in recent memory.
Helping Palestinians access food, water, healthcare, fuel and electricity is a top priority, Macron and other leaders said.
The French president also argued the need for a two-state solution to lasting peace.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh gave remarks demanding an end to the war, which he characterized as a war not against Hamas but “a war against the whole Palestinian people.”
“We must take care of the wounded, provide electricity, water, medicines,” he continued.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that while Israel had allowed some aid shipments into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, they weren’t nearly enough.
Shoukry called on “the entire international community, and donor countries in particular, to continue supporting the Palestinian people in Gaza.”
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides detailed his plan to open a path by sea “to provide continued rapid, safe and unhindered flow of humanitarian aid in a pragmatic and effective manner.”
Thursday’s talks also saw European nations pledge financial support for the people of Gaza.
Macron said at the conference that France will give 80 million euros, or $85.7 million, in humanitarian support for Gazan civilians in addition to $21.4 million it had previously committed this year.
Macron’s announcement comes two days after Germany said it would donate 20 million euros on top of releasing 71 million euros, or $76.1 million, it had already set aside for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, or UNRWA.
Denmark also promised to provide $10.7 million to Gazan civilians through U.N. humanitarian groups and the International Red Cross.
At a press conference after the conference, activists and philanthropic groups called for an immediate cease-fire, saying that humanitarian pauses wouldn’t allow enough time to address the ravages of war.
Agnès Callamard, the secretary general of human rights group Amnesty International, said that Israel’s military operations in Gaza constitute “a litany of violations of international law … not seen since World War II.”
UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillippe Lazzarini on Thursday sharply condemned how Israel has handled the war, saying, “Thousands of children killed cannot be ‘collateral damage.’”
Martin Griffiths, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs at the U.N., said that nowhere in Gaza is there access to “adequate shelter, food, water, sanitation and health.”