During a visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested repurposing Western troops deployed in Syria and Iraq to fight against the Palestinian militant group Hamas. He proposed that the US-led coalition, which includes several countries, should take on a new mission against the Gaza-based faction. Macron emphasized that the West and Israel shared a common enemy in terrorism.
Macron’s proposal was made during a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While Macron did not provide further details about his suggestion, he did emphasize that any operations against Hamas should follow rules and be conducted with mercy.
Following Macron’s remarks, his office issued a statement explaining that the international coalition’s current operations extend beyond the ground and include activities such as training Iraqi forces, sharing information between partners, and funding counter-terrorism efforts in foreign lands.
Netanyahu did not immediately respond to Macron’s proposal but went on to label Hamas as the “new Nazis” and stated that the free world is currently engaged in a battle with an “axis of evil.”
The Western nations, led by the United States, have a significant military presence in the region to combat the remains of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. The US maintains around 2,500 troops in Iraq and nearly 1,000 in Syria, while France has approximately 600 soldiers under its Operation Chammal, launched in 2014 as its primary anti-IS mission. Although combat operations have diminished over time, French casualties have still been reported, such as the recent death of a paratrooper in a firefight with an Iraqi terrorist cell.
Aside from the Western troops, tensions have been rising in the Middle East, particularly as the region witnesses the latest round of fighting between Israel and Palestinian fighters in Gaza. High tensions have led to at least 13 drone and rocket attacks on American personnel since October 17, with the Pentagon attributing the blame to Iran-backed militia groups.
The recent escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has resulted in a significant loss of life and injuries on both sides. A deadly Hamas attack earlier this month triggered a series of retaliatory airstrikes by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), leading to over 5,700 Palestinian deaths and countless injuries according to local officials. The Israeli government reports at least 1,400 deaths among its citizens, with around 200 people captured during Hamas’ assault on October 7. Although four detainees have been released, most are still held captive.
Macron’s suggestion to repurpose Western troops to combat Hamas reflects the ongoing tensions in the region and the determination to combat terrorist organizations. However, the proposal remains controversial and requires further discussion and collaboration among the coalition partners.