Paris crowd calls for end of 'massacre' in Gaza

AFP , Sunday 22 Oct 2023

Thousands of people rallied in Paris on Sunday to demand an end to Israeli military operations in Gaza following the attack by Hamas militants, which organisers said was a "massacre".

Protesters take part during a demonstration organized by the National Collective for a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis in Paris, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. AP


"Israel assassin, Macron complicit" and "No peace without decolonisation" were among the slogans at the demonstration in the Place de la Republique square in eastern Paris, called by a left-wing collective.

It was the first pro-Palestinian rally in the capital that had not first been banned by the police because of security fears.

It came after a court overturned a police ban on a similar rally in the capital on Thursday.

Police estimated that 15,000 people attended the rally Sunday, while organisers counted 30,000. No incidents were reported, authorities said.

Organisers called for "a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis" and urged France to "call for an immediate ceasefire".

They also demanded a "halt to the massacre in Gaza," where local Palestanian health officials say more than 4,600 people have been killed in the Israeli response to the Hamas assault on October 7, which killed around 1,400 Israelis.

"You don't have to be Palestinian to be affected by what is happening. For me, this type of gathering is a sign of the desperation," said Maya, a student who declined to give her last name.

It's the only thing you can do on an individual level. The government has a role to play diplomatically. It must have stronger positions and not act as a support for Israel," she told AFP.

"Macron is giving Israel licence to kill," said Bertrand Heilbronn, the chairman of Association France Palestine Solidarity.

'Legitimate emotion' 

Heilbronn said that the Hamas attack had given rise to "legitimate emotion" among Israelis but that the military riposte was "criminal and serves to justify a was of elimination which the state of Israel is in the process of waging against the Palestinian people".

Around 40 organisations joined the rally, including Heilbronn's as well as the Jewish French Union for Peace and an association of France-based Muslims.

The rally took place amid tight security after recent days brought bomb threats to several French airports and the Versailles palace outside Paris, a tourist hot spot.

Several thousand people also demonstrated their support for Palestinians meanwhile in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo with the city's mayor harking back the bloody siege the city endured during Bosnia's inter-ethnic war in the 1990s.

"The city that has endured the longest siege in modern history, Sarajevo, has the right to stand firmly with Gaza today," mayor Benjamina Karic said.

"We know what it's like when there's no water, no food, we know what it's like when children are killed," she added.

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