France Calls on Hezbollah to Stay Out of Israel-Hamas Conflict

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 13: France's President Emmanuel Macron receives Sultan of Brunei a
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(AFP) — France on Saturday urged the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia to stay out of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, expressing concern at the situation on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Paris also called for reporters covering the Israel-Hamas war to be protected after one journalist was killed and six others wounded in firing along the Lebanese border on Friday.

Hezbollah and Lebanon must “exercise restraint to avoid opening a second front in the region”, of which “the first victim will be Lebanon”, the French presidency said in a statement Saturday.

“No pretext should be given for Lebanon to slide once again into war”, it was insisted, “especially since Lebanon is extremely weakened by the absence of functional authorities” at its head for many months.

Hezbollah and other Palestinian factions in Lebanon have exchanged cross-border fire with Israel since Hamas’s surprise October 7 attack on Israel ignited a war that has killed more than 1,300 people in Israel.

Palestinian gunmen also seized an estimated 150 hostages while Israel’s retaliatory air and artillery bombardment has killed more than 2,200 people in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Two Lebanese civilians were killed in an Israeli bombing in Shebaa on Saturday, the village mayor Mohammad Harb told AFP.

A Hezbollah fighter was also killed Saturday by Israeli fire, the group said.

Earlier, Hezbollah said it had targeted Israeli positions in the disputed border area.

Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed and six others wounded in a strike attributed to Israel by Lebanese authorities. AFP photographer Christina Assi and AFP video journalist Dylan Collins were among those wounded.

The journalists believe they were hit by fire coming from the Israeli side of the border. Video shot by Collins just before the group of journalists was hit shows a flash of light coming from an Israeli position.

“We pay tribute to all those who work to defend free and independent information, and ask that they be protected,” France’s foreign ministry said in a statement, offering condolences to the Abdallah’s family and colleagues.

Agence France-Presse on Saturday urged both Israeli and Lebanese authorities to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the firing along their border that killed and wounded journalists.

“It is crucial that every effort is made to ascertain how a group of journalists, clearly identified and duly accredited, could be targeted in this way,” said Fabrice Fries, AFP’s chairman and CEO.

Israel’s military said Saturday it was looking into the circumstances, while its spokesman Richard Hecht told a briefing: “We are very sorry for the journalist’s death.”

The French presidency warned Saturday that Iran must refrain from adding to tensions in the region, while adding “it has no specific information” on Tehran’s involvement in the Islamist group’s offensive.

“But we know that Iranian weapons have gone to Gaza, that controlling the sea is difficult, and the links between Hezbollah and Iran,” it said.

French President Emmanuel Macron would be contacting his Iranian counterpart to convey this message, his office said.

Reaffirming Israel “has a right to defend itself”, Macron’s office also called for all measures to be taken to protect civilians while Israel bombards the Gaza Strip.

Paris also reaffirmed it has not been asked to provide military aid to Israel nor join in military operations.

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