France Bars Israel from Defence Exhibition over Gaza War

The French government has moved to bar Israel from participating in the Eurosatory Arms and Defence exhibition, over dissatisfaction with Israel’s actions in Gaza. Eurosatory is the world’s largest such exhibition for land and air-land defence, and is regarded with high importance in the industry.

Mutual Dissatisfaction

The decision of the French government to bar Israeli defence companies from participating in Eurosatory notably comes after recent staunch condemnations of Israel’s war in Gaza by French president Emmanuel Macron.

President Macron, while in recent months has been steadily more critical of the war, has issued further condemnation since Israel began their invasion of the south Gaza city of Rafah, a city which held a high civilian population.

Following Israel’s recent strike on an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Rafah, which killed 45 people, President Macron said he was “outraged” by the strike, reiterating calls for a ceasefire.

The strike, which spawned a fire within the camp, prompted international outrage, and resulted in increased calls for a ceasefire.

Israel’s conduct in Rafah, and particularly the President’s disagreeance with it, was named directly by the French Ministry of Defence as the reason Israeli companies have been barred from attending the conference.

“Conditions are no longer met to host Israeli companies at the show at a time when the President is calling for Israel to cease operations in Rafah” -the French Ministry of Defence

Coges, the organizer of Eurosatory, confirmed the decision to bar Israeli companies came directly from the government, stating “by decision of the government authorities, there will be no stand for the Israeli defence industry at the Eurosatory 2024 fair.”

Israel has been critical of the decision, and has urged the French government to reconsider their decision.

Benny Gantz, a member of Netanyahu’s ‘war cabinet’, stated he had held a phone conversation with French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal on the matter, claiming that the blockage of Israeli companies “ultimately rewards terror.” This particular statement notably bears similarities to those made by Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel Katz, on the recognition by Spain, Ireland, Norway, and Slovenia of Palestine, who also claimed the move was a “reward” for Hamas and Iran.

The decision to bar Israeli companies originating from the French government itself is significant given the generally friendly relationship between Israel and France. This relationship has grown significantly strained since the war began, particularly as France began calling for permanent ceasefires, including in the UN.

Eurosatory 2024

According to Coges, 74 different Israeli defence and security companies were set to attend the conference, which takes place every two years. Of these 74, 10 companies were set to exhibit weapons, again according to Coges.

Besides the Israeli companies, there are to be 1,743 exhibitors from 96 different countries. Running from the 17th to the 21st of June, the conference is expected to draw approximately 62,000 visitors from 150 different countries, as it did in 2022.

The conference is hosted in Paris, France.

Prior to the barring of Israeli companies from the conference, activists raised worries that the conference could be used to strike deals to the economic benefit of companies that are participants in Israel’s war effort. In response to these concerns, Coges stated that Eurosatory was “a fair solely for the presentation of defence and security equipment … and in no means a place for deals.”

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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