Most of the protests were peaceful. Police made 51 arrests, including 44 in Paris.
At the end of the day, 15 people were still in police custody for “participation in a group intending to commit violence”, “participation in a rally despite a warning” and “violence against police officers. order ”.
In Paris, the police headquarters banned the rally, but that did not prevent the demonstrators from gathering. The last demonstration was dispersed by police just after 7 p.m., fining 367 people, the interior minister said.
The police headquarters indicated that 4,200 police and gendarmerie had been mobilized to “systematically and immediately disperse” the demonstrators who were trying to assemble.
Previously, demonstrators from the 18th arrondissement had tried to start a march, but the police on the spot stopped them, causing a sometimes tense clash between the officers and the public.
– Pierre Bouvier (@pibzedog) May 15, 2021
Water cannons were used to disperse the demonstrators, in particular on the Boulevard de la Chappelle, in the 18th arrondissement.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin thanked the officers present on the scene.
Thank you to all the police and gendarmes mobilized today, including 4,200 in Paris this afternoon. Several were taken to task including a gendarme injured in Paris. 51 arrests including 44 in Paris. Force must remain with the law.
– Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) May 15, 2021
Motivations for protest
The protests were organized by the pro-Palestinian group, the Association des Palestinians en Ile-de-France, and supported by around 30 other organizations, including Attac, Action Antifasciste Paris-Banlieue, and the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste.
Protesters chanted slogans such as “Free Palestine”, “Israel assassin (Israel the killer)” “Israel get out, Palestine is not yours (Israel get out, Palestine is not yours)”, and “Palestine will live. Palestine will win (Palestine will live, Palestine will win) ”.
A protester, Christophe Baudet, from the 19th arrondissement of Paris, Told The world: “I came precisely because [Interior Minister Gérald] Darmanin and the [far-right party] the National Rally wants to describe us all as anti-Semites.
“It is abominable to use anti-Semitism in this way. To be against colonization and the far-right government in Israel is not anti-Semitism.
A woman, a member of the charity A New Face, which funds projects for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, spoke out against the prefecture’s choice to ban the gathering.
She said: “I am shocked that France is the only western country where it is forbidden to demonstrate in solidarity with the Palestinians. “
Another protester added: “We are not here to stir up trouble, we are here to show our solidarity with the Palestinians, because the government condemns the bombing by Hamas but not by Israel. “
Yet another said: “France says it is outraged and surprised, but does nothing. Macron says Israel has the right to defend itself, but the Palestinians also have this right. ”
Republic Square now.
Demonstrators managed to pass the police roadblocks and gradually gather in the square. pic.twitter.com/0qDbm5rR6j
– Taha Bouhafs (@T_Bouhafs) May 15, 2021
– Officiel de Tabrez Khan (@ TabrezKhanSab92) May 15, 2021
Events across France
Demonstrations also took place in Toulouse (800 people according to the organizers; 400 according to the police); Lille (1,500 people according to the organizers; 600-700 according to the police); and Lyon, where the prefecture said 1,000 people had surrendered.
There were also gatherings of 200 to 600 people in Bordeaux, Marseille, Saint-Étienne, Nantes, Annecy, Rennes, Niort, Nice and Poitiers.
In Strasbourg, 19 associations have come together to march peacefully, and the organizers have repeated on several occasions that “no anti-Semitic slogan will be tolerated”. Most wore masks and carried pro-Palestinian banners and flags.
Similar movements have also taken place in other countries, notably in London, UK, where thousands of people have gathered. Organizers mentionned: “It is essential that the UK government take immediate action.” They called Israel’s actions “war crimes”.
In Madrid, Spain, around 2,500 protesters marched peacefully; and several thousand participated in protests in Berlin, Germany; Milan, Italy; and Washington DC, United States.
This comes after the situation in Israel and Gaza has worsened in recent days. More than 139 Palestinians have died in the clashes. In Israel, nine people have died, including a child.
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