As marches were being held across a dozen French cities in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the focus was on Paris, where riot police prepared to quell an event that organizers said would go ahead despite a ban on the protest.
Paris police chief Didier Lallement ordered shops closed around the starting point of the planned march in a working-class neighborhood in northern Paris after an administrative court confirmed the ban. Authorities noted a banned July 2014 pro-Palestinian protest against an Israeli offensive in Gaza that degenerated into violence and running battles with police to justify the order against Saturday’s march.
Organizers said they intend to “denounce the latest Israeli aggressions” and mark the fleeing of Palestinians after Israel declared independence in 1948.
“Stop Annexation. Palestine Will Vanquish,” read one poster in a small crowd facing off with police, who blocked off the neighborhood. Police said water cannons would be used against those who defy the Paris ban.
Protests were permitted in numerous other cities, including Lille in the north to Marseille on the Mediterranean Sea.
Escalating deadly rocket attacks in Gaza have French authorities on edge, fearing the conflict could also play out in France in the form of violent protests.