Water cannon and tear gas were used to disperse a banned pro-Palestine rally in Paris tonight as French police moved to arrest its organisers.
It followed the country’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin saying there was ‘no place’ for such protests against the Gaza War following Saturday’s terrorist atrocities.
Crowds built up around Republic square in the French capital on Thursday, chanting ‘Free Palestine‘, ‘End the Siege of Gaza’, ‘Israel murderer’ and ‘Macron accomplice’ – in reference to the French President‘s backing of Israel.
Hundreds gathered brandishing Palestinian flags, and other symbols showing their support for one side in the Arab-Israeli conflict, which erupted when Hamasterrorists launched a violent attack on Israeli civilians on Saturday.
Soon after 8pm a water cannon soaked many of those in the crowd of around 2,000, sending them running for cover. Tear gas was then unleashed, as CRS riot patrols moved in to clear the area.
‘Our orders are to prevent the protest continuing,’ said a police chief at the scene. ‘People are asked to leave the area.’
The French police have routinely banned any demonstrations in favour of Palestine since the Israel-Gaza War of 2014.
They have always cited ‘threats to public order’ as a reason, but opponents have accused them of ignoring principles of freedom and free speech.
Two groups – the Association France Palestine Solidarite, the other by the Collectif National Paix Juste Durable Palestine – organised the Thursday evening protest.
The ban was again implemented ‘taking into account the risk of disturbance to public order’, said a spokesman for the Paris police prefecture.
Protester Charlotte Vautier, 29, an employee at a non-profit, said: ‘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.’