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Paris crowd calls for end of ‘massacre’ in Gaza

Author: AFP | Published: Monday, October 23, 2023

Marchers at the Paris rally where organisers demanded 'a just and lasting peace' (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP)

Thousands of people rallied in Paris on Sunday demanding an end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza¬†which organisers said was a “massacre”, following the bloody attack by Hamas militants.

“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.

Police said they made ten arrests at what was the first pro-Palestinian rally in the capital that had not 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.

“We managed to convince the judges that we are defending human rights,” lawyer Dominique Cochin told the crowd.

Police estimated that 15,000 people attended the rally Sunday, while organisers counted 30,000.

Roughly a thousand people also marched in the southern city of Marseille.

Gaza 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.

“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 the Hamas attack had given rise to “legitimate emotion” among Israelis but that it was “criminal to exploit it to justify a war of elimination which the state of Israel is waging against the Palestinian people”.

Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burnt to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials.

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 tourist hotspot west of Paris.

Several thousand people also demonstrated support for Palestinians in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo with the city’s mayor harking back to 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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