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France

Paris hosts its first pro-Israel rally since start of Gaza offensive

© Boris Horvat, AFP | Pro-Israel demonstrators in Marseille on July 27

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-31

Pro-Israeli groups are gathering in front of the Jewish state’s Paris embassy on Thursday, in the first such event in the French capital since the recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip began more than three weeks ago.

The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (Crif, its acronym in French), France’s largest umbrella group of French Jewish organisations, has called on “all friends of Israel” to assemble in front of Israel’s diplomatic mission in Paris on Thursday at 6:30pm local time.

Another pro-Israel event was planned later in the evening in the French central-eastern city of Lyon, the hometown of a Franco-Israeli IDF soldier killed in Gaza on July 20.

The Mediterranean city of Marseille was the site of a pro-Israeli rally on Sunday that organisers said gathered 6,000 people. Police said 2,000 attended the event in Marseille, which pro-Palestinian protesters tried to disrupt.

France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim populations, has become embroiled in controversy over the government’s decision to ban certain pro-Palestinian events since the Israeli offensive began 23 days ago.

French news channel BFMTV reported that up to 400 police officers will be posted at the Paris demonstration.

Jewish far-right group in the crosshairs?

Just hours before the pro-Israel rally in the capital, French media reported that the interior ministry was studying the possibility of banning the far-right Jewish Defence League in France.

Members of the group have been accused of instigating a violent confontation with pro-Palestinian protesters near a synagogue in Paris on July 13.

French government officials proceeded to ban some pro-Palestinian rallies following the altercation on the sidelines of the march.

The Jewish Defence League has a long history of controversy and alleged acts of terrorism, and has been outlawed in both the US and Israel.

Asked about the possibility of banning the right-wing Jewish group in France on Thursday, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve neither confirmed nor denied the reports, saying the ministry was studying the possibility of outlawing “all groups that could be dangerous.”

Date created : 2014-07-31

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