Paris police clash with protesters after France bans pro-Palestine demonstrations

12 October 2023, 21:43 | Updated: 12 October 2023, 21:49

Pro-Palestine protesters in Paris
Pro-Palestine protesters in Paris. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Police in Paris have clashed with demonstrators after France announced all pro-Palestinian protests will not be allowed to go ahead.

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Pro-Palestine demonstrations have taken place regardless, leading to clashes between police and protesters.

France's interior minister on Thursday ordered a ban on pro-Palestine demonstrations following a rise in antisemitic acts since Hamas attacked Israel over the weekend.

President Emmanuel Macron urged French people not to allow the war in the Middle East to erupt into tensions at home.

Shortly before Mr Macron spoke in a televised address to the nation about the conflict, Paris police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse pro-Palestinian protesters who had defied a ban and demonstrated against the Israeli government.

"Let us not bring ideological adventures here (to France) by imitation or by projection. Let us not add national fractures to international fractures,'' Mr Macron said.

"Let us stay united."

Pro-Palestine protesters in Paris
Pro-Palestine protesters in Paris. Picture: Getty

With several French-Israeli citizens believed to be held hostage by Hamas, Mr Macron pledged that France would protect its Jewish citizens and be "ruthless toward all those who bear hate" and noted concerns about hostility toward France's Muslims too.

Fighting in the Middle East in the past has led to tensions in France, which is estimated to have the world's third-largest Jewish population after Israel and the US, and the largest Muslim population in western Europe.

Read More: Morgue at Gaza’s biggest hospital overflows as Israeli attacks intensify

Read More: Israel preparing for possible ground assault as air strikes devastate Gaza

Thirteen French citizens in Israel have been killed in the current fighting, Mr Macron said, with 17 people missing.

Many are believed held hostage by Hamas. The Paris prosecutor's office opened an investigation on Thursday into the killings and suspected kidnappings.

The French government has reported 24 arrests for more than 100 antisemitic acts in France since Hamas attacked Israel on Saturday, including verbal abuse, people caught with knives near Jewish schools and synagogues and a drone equipped with a camera spotted over a Jewish cultural centre.

Clashes have taken place in France's capital
Clashes have taken place in France's capital. Picture: Getty

More than 2,000 cases of antisemitic speech have been reported to an online watchdog force.

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin sent a directive to local prefects on Thursday, seen by The Associated Press, calling for a further tightening of security around Jewish schools, synagogues and other sites.

It said pro-Palestinian demonstrations should be banned and those who defy bans should be arrested, "because they are susceptible to disrupt public order".

The National Collective for a Fair and Lasting Peace between Palestinians and Israelis said it "denounces this threat to freedom of expression" and pledged to continue holding actions to support the Palestinian people.

At the banned Paris protest on Thursday, protesters wearing Palestinian flags draped around their shoulders sprayed "Free Palestine" on the monument underpinning Republic Plaza in eastern Paris.

Many chanted "We are all Palestinians".

Earlier this week, thousands of people marched in Paris in support of Israel, and the Eiffel Tower was lit up with a Star of David and the blue and white of the Israeli flag.

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