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Tens of thousands take to the streets across France in support of Gaza ceasefire

By RFI
France © ALAIN JOCARD / AFP
SAT, 04 NOV 2023 LISTEN
© ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

Calling for peace and an "immediate ceasefire" in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, protest rallies in support of the Palestinian people took place on Saturday in Paris and elsewhere across France. 

Thousands gathered at Paris' Place de la République at 15h00 to protest through the streets towards Place de la Nation on Saturday afternoon – the first unbanned rally in support of the Palestinian people that is allowed to march.

An authorised "static rally" took place on Thursday evening in Paris with 2,000 people taking part.

The demonstration, called by associations, trade unions and political parties, was not banned by the prefecture of police, who had warned in advance that it would not tolerate "any excesses".

Organisers say 60,000 turned up for the street protest in Paris. Police have put the figure at 19,000. 

The leader of the France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon – who has been criticised since the start of the conflict for failing to denounce Hamas as a terrorist organisation – called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza at the Paris demonstration, where he said "an appalling massacre" was taking place as a result of Israeli bombardments.

Many placards read "Free Palestine" and "Cease fire, stop bombing civilians," but alongside the majority of slogans in support of Gaza, others were aimed at Israel, such as "Israel is a murderer, Macron is an accomplice".

Other slogans included "Boycott Israel" and "Israel is a terrorist state".

'Not a crime'

Other demonstrations and rallies took place across France, including in Bordeaux, Orléans, Rouen and Nice.

In Strasbourg, there were also at least a thousand people shouting, "Solidarity with the people of Gaza" and "Terrorist Israel, Macron an accomplice".

On Saturday morning, a march in Toulouse brought together between 2,000 people, according to the CGT trade union; no more than 600, according to the prefecture.

Banners included "Israel is a murderer, Macron is an accomplice" and "Supporting Palestine is not a crime".

The war between Israel and Hamas was triggered on 7 October by the Palestinian Islamist movement's unprecedented attack on Israeli soil where more than 1,400 people were killed, most of them civilians according to the Israeli authorities and more than 240 people have been taken hostage.

In retaliation, Israel declared a war to "annihilate" Hamas, by relentlessly pounding the Gaza Strip where almost 9,500 people – including 3,900 children – have been killed, according to a latest Hamas report released on Saturday.

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