PARIS (Reuters) – French police used tear gas and water cannon to break up a banned march in support of the Palestinian people in Paris on Thursday, while President Emmanuel Macron urged the French to remain united and refrain from rapprochement between Israel and Hamas. House of conflict.
Macron’s Interior Minister had earlier banned pro-Palestinian protests, saying they were “likely to lead to disturbances in public order.”
France is home to the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe. The conflict in the Middle East has often sparked internal tensions in the past.
“Let us not pursue ideological adventures at home through imitation or show,” Macron said in a solemn television speech.
“Let us not add, through illusions or calculations, internal divisions to international divisions,” he said. “The shield of unity will protect us from hatred and abuses.”
Macron said the government had moved to strengthen police protection of Jewish sites, including schools and synagogues.
“This event is an earthquake for Israel, the Middle East and beyond,” he said. He added, “Whoever confuses the Palestinian issue with justification for terrorism is committing a moral, political and strategic mistake.”
Before he spoke, the far-left France Untethered party faced criticism for refusing to describe the Hamas attack as an act of terrorism, causing tension with its Socialist and Green opposition partners.
Despite the ban, several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in central Paris in separate groups that police sought to prevent from merging.
The demonstrators chanted, “Israel is a killer” and “Macron is an accomplice.” Macron previously condemned the deadly attack carried out by the Palestinian Hamas movement and expressed his solidarity with Israel.
Charlotte Vautier (29 years old) said, “We live in a country of civil law, a country where we have the right to take a stand and demonstrate. (It is unfair) to prevent one side and allow the other side.” An employee of a non-profit organization participated in the march.
Earlier this week, Hamas called for protests across the Muslim world on Friday in support of the Palestinians.
Two pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris were already banned on Thursday for fear of explosions when Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin asked conservatives to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the country.
The French government said on Wednesday that since the Hamas cross-border attack from Gaza on Saturday, French police have arrested more than 20 people for dozens of anti-Semitic acts, including the molestation of Jewish children by fellow students at school.
(Reporting by Lily Forudi, Antonois Simin, Noémie Olive and Michelle Rose – Preparing by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) Writing by Charlotte van Campenhout and Benoit van Overstraeten; Edited by Mark Heinrich and Howard Goller
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