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French press review 19 July 2014

The French papers discuss the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 near Ukraine’s border with Russia, Israel’s latest offensive on Gaza and give a brief mention to François Hollande’s African mini-tour.


Libération’s mind is made up. Russian President Vladmir Putin arms the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine and bears a heavy responsibility for the tragedy which on Thursday cost the lives of 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysian Airlines Boeing.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

To make its point, Libé publishes a photograph of Alexander Borodaï the self-proclaimed prime minister of the separatist People’s Republic of Donetsk, taken on the scene of the crash.

The left-leaning newspaper reports that Borodaï’s forces, which were the first to arrive at the scene of the crash, may have downed the plane by mistake, believing it to be a Ukrainian army transport aircraft.

Libération also examines what seems to be a spin operation underway in Moscow to deny any Russian role in the plane crash.

According to the paper, pro-Kremlin television channels have been claiming that there is a conspiracy theory mounted by Kiev. Libé says that the media outlets have been citing with profusion an anonymous source which claims that the Ukrainians had tried to shoot down Putin’s plane.

After the world has come to terms with the tragedy it’s now time for accusations as to who is responsible, writes Le Monde.

Putin must face up to his responsibilities after President Barack Obama called him to vent his anger over “unspeakable carnage and a scandalous global tragedy”, necessitating the immediate restoration of peace in Ukraine, the paper says.

According to the publication, Obama cited intelligence evidence showing that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine. He also noted that previous attacks by separatists on government aircraft in Ukraine suggested rebels benefited from Russian technical expertise.

Le Figaro says it expects a difficult investigation to establish the truth amid reports that the crash site has been tampered with and the black boxes found by the pro-Russian rebels have disappeared. The truth in such situations always wears camouflage, writes Le Figaro in an editorial headlined “playing with fire”.

The headline could apply to the Israeli army as Le Figaro points to the high risks and consequences in Palestine and around the world of a military blunder during the just-launched ground operation in the Gaza Strip to destroy tunnels allegedly used by Hamas commandos to carry out operations inside Israel. An Israeli military spokesperson tells Le Figaro that eight tunnels and 150 targets have been destroyed over the past two days.

Dossier: War in Mali

Libération summarises the Israeli ground operation inside the Palestinian territory in a phrase: “Fifty-one Palestinians killed for eight tunnels in a single day.” It is such overwhelming use of force and the high human casualty rate that has fuelled the cycle of war and hatred denounced by Le Monde in today’s editorial.

This is amid rising tensions here in France between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups in France. Libé reports that the Paris police chief has banned a protest set to take place in the capital this Saturday, citing the risk of an outburst of violence.

The crash of the Malaysian airliner and the Israeli offensive in Gaza have eclipsed French President François Hollande’s ongoing African tour, according to Le Figaro.

The right-wing paper reports that he was informed of the plane crash during the signing of a judicial cooperation accord at the presidential palace in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Thursday.

In Niger he reiterated calls for an international inquiry into the downing of the Malaysian aircraft and renewed his appeal for a ceasefire in the Middle East, says Le Figaro.

He is currently in Chad, where he is preparing the way for the installation of a new French force known as Barkhane in N’Djamena, on the last lap of the three-day shuttle.

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