France - Middle East

Paris police to ban pro-Gaza demonstration

Paris police aim to ban a demonstration against Israel’s Gaza bombing campaign planned for Saturday after clashes outside two synagogues last weekend. Thousands were expected to turn out on pro-Palestinian protests across France on Wednesday.

A Palestinian family mourns a four-year-old killed on Sunday
A Palestinian family mourns a four-year-old killed on Sunday Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Paris police are trying to ban a rally organised by far-left parties and Palestinian solidarity groups to march from the largely immigrant Barbès area to the Opéra Garnier, near the Louvre, citing “serious risks to public order” and a “context of increased tension”.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called on officials to ban rallies if necessary after clashes between pro-Israel activists and pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside two Paris synagogues last Sunday.

A 23-year-old man was jailed for four months for “rebellion” after clashing with police who stopped him to check his identity papers after the march and four other people face trial for rebellion and violence against the security forces, according to judicial sources.

About 50 political parties, unions and activist groups called for rallies in Paris, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse on Wednesday to call for an “immediate end” to the Israeli offensive, which has cost 208 Palestinian lives.

Armed Palestinian groups have fired 1,200 rockets into Israel, killing one Israeli.

Controversy rages over Sunday’s incidents after President François Hollande declared that he did not want to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imported into France.

Posting video of the event and tweets online, pro-Palestinian campaigners accuse right-wing Zionist groups, including the banned Jewish Defence League, of causing the clashes by calling pro-Israel rallies outside the synagogues and deliberately provoking demonstrators.

Jewish religious leaders have accused Palestinian supporters of going to the synagogues to “verbally and physically attack Jews”.

Some 2,200 Jews have left France for Israel this year, compared to fewer than 600 a year ago, as concern over anti-Semitism grows.

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