French FM suggests sanctions on Israel to get aid into Gaza

France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that pressure, and possibly sanctions, must be imposed on Israel to open crossings to get humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

“There must be levers of influence and there are multiple levers, going up to sanctions to let humanitarian aid cross check points,” Stephane Sejourne told RFI radio and France 24 television

“France was one of the first countries to propose European Union sanctions on Israeli settlers who are committing acts of violence in the West Bank. We will continue if needed to obtain the opening of humanitarian aid,” he said.

Some 33,207 people have been killed in six months of conflict in Gaza, the local health ministry said on Monday. Most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people are homeless and many at risk of famine.

Hamas killed 1,200 people in southern Israel in a cross-border attack on October 7 that triggered the conflict, according to Israeli tallies.

Sejourne’s suggestions came amid widening rifts between Israel and the West, including the U.S., over the mounting deaths of Palestinians, the humanitarian disaster that’s unfolding in the enclave and what Israel said was an unintentional airstrike that killed seven aid workers earlier this month.

Meanwhile, other countries have ramped up their pressure on Israel. Türkiye said on Tuesday it will restrict exports of a wide range of products to Israel, including steel and jet fuel, until a ceasefire is declared in Gaza.

This was Ankara’s first significant measure against Israel, which followed Israel’s rejection of its request to take part in an aid air-drop.

(With input from Reuters)

(Cover: French Foreign Minister, Stephane Sejourne speaks during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, March 30, 2024. /CFP)