France working to get AFP journalists out of Gaza amid Israel’s war

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France said on Thursday it was concerned about the heavy toll among journalists covering the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and it was pushing to get Agence France-Presse reporters out of the Gaza Strip.

“We are keeping up our efforts regarding AFP employees,” said Christophe Lemoine, deputy spokesman for Paris’ foreign ministry.

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It is “a complex operation”, he added.

“Since October, we have been working to allow French citizens on the ground to leave Gaza, as well as their dependents,” Lemoine added.

The comments came after a group of journalists, among them AFP staff, published an op-ed in French daily Le Monde asking French President Emmanuel Macron to help secure the evacuation of Palestinian journalists working with French media.

Gaza’s Rafah crossing into Egypt has been shut since the start of Israel’s war following Hamas’s October 7 attacks.

While the border crossing has intermittently opened in recent weeks, only people whose names were on approved lists have been allowed out.

“Since the start of the war, foreign nationals have been able to leave Gaza, but the Rafah crossing is closed to Palestinian journalists working for French media on the ground,” the op-ed read.

“The Americans have done it... France can do it too. France must do it. It is our collective responsibility,” it added, calling on Macron to work with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help get the journalists out.

In his remarks, Lemoine underscored that France had managed to get Palestinians working at a French cultural institute in Gaza out of the territory, among 154 people it has helped evacuate.

“Concerning Palestinian workers at French firms, aid groups and public figures flagged up to us, we are still looking for solutions with our partners in the region to get them to safety outside the Gaza Strip,” Lemoine said.

Paris also hailed the work of journalists killed while covering the conflict.

France has “concerns about the heavy toll paid by journalists in the context of the conflict between Israel and Hamas”, Lemoine said.

“Civilians must be protected, and that is especially the case for journalists. They have to be able to freely and completely safely do their work,” he added.

At least 59 journalists and media workers – 56 Palestinians and three Lebanese – have been killed by Israel since October 7, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Around 40 journalists working with AFP and their dependents are still waiting to get out of Gaza.

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