French police used teargas and water cannon to break up a banned pro-Palestinian rally, which was meant to be in support of the Palestinian people in Paris on Thursday, while President Emmanuel Macron urged the French to remain united and refrain from bringing the Israel-Hamas conflict home.
Macron’s interior minister had earlier banned pro-Palestinian protests, saying they were “likely to generate disturbances to public order”.
France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish communities. The Middle East conflict has often stoked domestic tensions in the past.
“This event is an earthquake for Israel, the Middle East and beyond,” Macron said in a solemn TV address. “Let’s not pursue at home ideological adventures by imitating or projecting.”
“Let’s not add, through illusions or calculations, domestic divides to international divides,” he said. “The shield of unity will protect us from hatred and excesses.”
Macron said the government had acted to boost police protection of Jewish sites, including schools and synagogues, and that there could be no justification for atrocities.
“There is no ‘Yes, but’. Those who confuse the Palestinian cause with the justification of terrorism are making a moral, political and strategic mistake.”