France bans Israeli companies from arms exhibition | News about the Israel-Palestine conflict

The French Defense Ministry suggests the decision is linked to Paris’s opposition to the ongoing Israeli invasion of Rafah.

France has banned Israeli companies from participating in the annual Eurosatory arms and defense industry exhibition in Villepinte, near Paris, next month, event organizers and French authorities said.

“By the decision of the government authorities, the Israeli defense industry will not take place at the Eurosatory 2024 fair,” organizers Coges Events said on Friday.

The French Defense Ministry suggested the decision was linked to Paris’s opposition to the continued Israeli assault on Rafah in southern Gaza.

“The conditions are no longer met to host Israeli companies at the show at a time when the president is asking Israel to cease operations in Rafah,” the ministry told Reuters news agency.

Seventy-four Israeli firms were due to take part in the June 17-21 event at exhibitions near Paris’ main international airport, with Coges previously saying around 10 of them would display weapons.

Last week, an activist group issued a legal warning and urged Coges to take steps to avoid buying and selling weapons that could be used in “crimes” committed in Gaza or elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory.

ASER, Stop Arming Israel, Urgency Palestine and the France-Palestine Solidarity Association also warned that profits from the fair “strengthen the economic power of firms likely to participate in these crimes”.

Coges told the AFP news agency that it was “exclusively a fair for the presentation of defense and security equipment… and in no way a place for transactions”.

In a social media post on Friday, Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz said he told French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal that the decision to ban an Israeli delegation from the defense fair “ultimately rewards terror” .

France’s announcement came just days after Israel bombed a camp for displaced people in Rafah, southern Gaza, sparking international outrage and widespread protests in France.

President Emmanuel Macron also said he was “outraged” by the Israeli airstrike that killed 45 people in the camp.

In the previous weeks, France joined other Western nations in urging Israel against the invasion of Rafah, which had become home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians forcibly displaced from other parts of Gaza.

Israel ignored these warnings and proceeded with a major offensive against Rafah, displacing an estimated one million people from the city. The attack, which led to Israeli forces taking over the Rafah crossing with Egypt, also worsened the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Last week, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – the highest court of the United Nations – ordered Israel to stop attacks on Rafah.

At least 36,284 Palestinians have been killed and 82,057 injured in Israel’s war on Gaza since October 7.