Clashes erupted in Paris Sunday as thousands protested against Israel and in support of residents of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, where almost a week of Israeli air strikes in response to Hamas rocket attacks have left at least 166 Palestinians dead.
Several thousand demonstrators took to the streets of Paris behind a large banner that read "Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People" before clashes erupted as the march ended on Bastille Square. Demonstrators threw projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with teargas in unrest that continued into Sunday evening.
In the northern city of Lille, meanwhile, between 2,300 and 6,000 people protested peacefully, according to differing figures provided by the police and organisers.
The latest descent into violence in the Gaza Strip began on June 12 when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered, triggering a major military crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank and an escalation of rocket fire from Hamas' stronghold in Gaza.
Israel launched an air campaign against the Hamas militants that rule Gaza on July 8. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly blamed Hamas for the abduction and murder of the Israeli teens.
No Israelis have been killed so far in the tit-for-tat attacks fromboth sides, although militants in Gaza have pounded the country with nearly 700 rockets since the fighting began and another 150 have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defence system.
"I came to say no to this massacre," Amid Hamadouch, 30, told AFP at the Paris protest. He wore a sticker reading "Boycott Israel, Racist State" on his jacket.
"They are bombing innocent people. There are missiles being launched by Hamas, but the Israeli response is disproportionate. They are attacking the civilian population and not Hamas officials," he said.
The mostly very young crowd shouted slogans such as, "We Are All Palestinians!" and "Only One Solution, End the Occupation!".
Many protesters carried banners on which they had stuck photos taken from the Internet, reportedly showing Palestinian children killed or injured, houses razed to the ground or clouds of smoke emerging from bombed districts in Gaza.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 70 percent of those killed in Gaza so far have been civilians, of whom 30 percent were children.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-07-14