French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna landed in Israel on Sunday with the intention of advocating for an “immediate and lasting” ceasefire.
Colonna will meet her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Tel Aviv, as Israel presses on with its military offensive after the October 7 attacks that has left much of Gaza in ruins and sent tensions spiralling across the region.
Paris on Saturday condemned an Israeli strike in Gaza that killed a French foreign ministry employee, demanding that “light be shed” on the circumstances.
Colonna is also due to meet the families of French hostages still held in Gaza and to call for an “immediate and durable new humanitarian truce,” according to a foreign ministry statement.
The truce should lead to a lasting cease-fire with the aim of releasing all hostages and delivering aid to Gaza, it said.
Israel has come under increasing international pressure for a cease-fire in Gaza, where its offensive against Hamas militants has killed at least 18,800 people, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s Hamas government.
The offensive comes in response to Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attacks in southern Israel in which about 1,140 people were killed, mostly civilians, and about 250 taken hostage, according to latest Israeli figures.
The French top diplomat will also meet her Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki in the occupied West Bank.
Shortly before her arrival in Israel, Colonna condemned increasing attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank.
“Since October 7, unfortunately, some settlers, driven by their ideological blindness… have committed crimes” against Palestinians, she said, adding that “these settlers must be punished.”
More than 280 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the West Bank since the war in Gaza erupted on October 7, health officials say.