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French police deploy tear gas on protestors supporting Palestinians in Paris

French police deploy tear gas on protestors supporting Palestinians in Paris
© Getty Images

French police on Saturday used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters who defied a ban on demonstrations in Paris in response to escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The demonstrators came out in support of Palestinians amid escalating violence between Israel and Hamas in the region. Throughout this week, Israel and Hamas have exchanged fire including rocket attacks and military strikes.  

French news outlet France 24 reported that an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 protesters gathered in the streets of Paris, with videos and photos shared on social media showing protesters waving Palestinian flags and signs with phrases like “Free Palestine,” “end massacre” and “Stop Annexation. Palestine Will Vanquish.” 

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Paris Police Chief Didier Lallementordered 4,200 security forces to disperse the protests and block off streets as demonstrators came out in public to oppose Israel’s military offensive.

The strikes by Israel sparked a series of other pro-Palestinian marches across other cities in France and Europe Saturday. 

The Associated Press reported that Paris police had issued a ban on protests in the city due to fears of violence erupting, a move that was upheld by an administrative court. 

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Authorities had defended the ban by citing a 2014 pro-Palestinian protest that escalated into violence in Paris as demonstrators opposed Israeli military activities in Gaza at the time, the AP noted. 

Footage and photos captured at the protests showed police using tear gas and water cannons as protesters defied the order. 

The AP reported that some protesters threw objects at police before security forces pushed them out of the streets. 

Police said they arrested 44 people in total during the protests, and French government officials defending the efforts to curb the demonstrations Saturday.

“We don’t want scenes of violence,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said, according to the AP. “We don’t want a conflict imported to French soil.” 

The protests in Paris and other major cities like London, Rome and Brussels took place the same day Israel ramped up strikes in Gaza, including one that destroyed a 12-story building in Gaza City that housed offices for the AP and Al Jazeera news outlets. 

Israel Defense Forces defended the strikes on Saturday, writing on Twitter that Hamas, a militant group labeled by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, had "placed military assets" inside high-rise buildings for intelligence gathering, communication and other purposes.

The White House responded to the airstrike Saturday with a statement from press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' On The Money: Biden to fire FHFA director after Supreme Court removes restriction | Yellen pleads with Congress to raise debt ceiling Biden emphasizes investment in police, communities to combat crime MORE, who tweeted, “We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.” 

The White House later Saturday announced that President Biden had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE in a phone call in which Biden "reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza" and "raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection."