Thousands Protest Gaza Operation in Paris, Some With Nazi-like 'Quenelle' Salute

France's interior minister urges protesters to observe the order, fearing anti-Semitic violence.

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Haaretz
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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gesture the "quenelle" sign on the Republique square in Paris, July 26, 2014.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gesture the "quenelle" sign on the Republique square in Paris, July 26, 2014.Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

Several thousand gathered in Place de la République in Paris, France to protest the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, defying a state ban on the demonstration.

Protesters chanted "Israel is an assassin, Holland is an accomplice" and "we are all Palestinians," and some were seen gesturing the quenelle, a reverse Nazi-salute, AFP reported. Tension mounted as hundreds of protesters, some masked, began throwing stones and projectiles at police who responded with tear gas.

"This event is illegal, but for us it is more than legitimate. This is to show our solidarity with people who are now being massacred," Hugo, a New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) activist, told AFP.

The NPA decided to defy the ban and hold the protest as planned in an assertion of the party's "solidarity with the Palestinian people," NPA leader Olivier Besancenot said.

Earlier, France's interior minister called on the protest's organizers to observe the order, fearing anti-Semitic violence.

Bernard Cazeneuve made his public appeal shortly before Saturday's demonstration in Paris was to start. Hours earlier, the Council of State, France's top administrative body, ruled the protest ban was legal.

A court had ruled likewise, but organizers said they still planned to hold the protest.

France has Western Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim populations. Two banned pro-Gaza protests last weekend, in Paris and Sarcelles, to the north, degenerated into violence and attacks on synagogues. On Wednesday, an authorized demonstration was peaceful.

Cazeneuve said chatter on social networks indicated a risk that Saturday's protest could become a "cortege of violence."

AP contributed to this report

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