French police used teargas and water cannon to break up a banned rally in support of the Palestinian people in Paris on Thursday after the interior minister said such gatherings were “likely to generate disturbances to public order”.
Despite the ban, several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in central Paris in separate groups that police forces sought to keep from merging.
Demonstrators chanted “Israel murderer” and “Macron accomplice,” a reference to French President Emmanuel Macron, who has condemned the deadly attack by the Palestinian militant Hamas group and voiced solidarity with Israel.
“We live in a country of civil law, a country where we have the right to take a stand and to demonstrate. (It is unfair) to forbid for one side and to authorise for the other and that does not reflect the reality of Palestine,” said Charlotte Vautier, 29, an employee at a non-profit.
Earlier this week, Hamas called for protests across the Muslim world on Friday to support Palestinians.
Two pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris had already been banned on Thursday for fear of outbursts when interior minister Gerald Darmanin told prefects to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the country.
France is home to some of Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish populations and Middle East conflict can stoke tensions. Darmanin said the government had acted to boost police protection of Jewish sites, including schools and synagogues.
Since the Hamas cross-border attack from Gaza on Saturday, French police have arrested more than 20 people in dozens of antisemitic acts, including harassment of Jewish children by fellow pupils at school, the government said on Wednesday.
Macron was shortly due to deliver a televised address on the Middle East situation.