Pro-Palestinian rally draws thousands in Paris as protest ban lifted

Pro-Palestinian rally draws thousands in Paris as protest ban lifted
Thousands rallied in support of Palestine in the French capital Thursday evening after authorities lifted a ban on protests.
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The rally was in support of Palestine and came after France previously banned the protests [Getty]

Thousands gathered for a pro-Palestinian protest in the heart of Paris on Thursday, after authorities lifted a ban put in place immediately after the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.

A Paris court on Thursday had suspended a ban that had been put on the protest in Place de la Republique in central Paris.

Thousands had already gathered for the rally, which started off peacefully, but reportedly saw some clashes with police, who used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

The crowds however returned and carried on with the protest.

Last week Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had called on regional authorities to ban all pro-Palestinian demonstrations, claiming there to be a spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the wake of the Israeli war on Gaza.

But the Paris court said that bans imposed by regional prefects were "a serious and clearly illegal threat to the freedom to protest".

President Emmanuel Macron said it had been justified to block pro-Palestinian demonstrations immediately after the attack by Hamas on Israel.

"I think there was a period of decency - there had been a terrorist attack, it wasn't good," he said earlier on Thursday in an exchange with students in the street witnessed by AFP.

"I see people who want to demonstrate peacefully but there are hyper-radical elements who are going to burn the Israeli flag and defend Hamas," Macron added.

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Hamas carried out a surprise air, ground and sea attack on southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1,400 people and kidnapping about 200 others, according to Israeli officials.

Israel has retaliated by relentlessly bombing the Gaza Strip, killing at least 3,785 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to the territory's health ministry. Most of these deaths have been women and children.

The bombing has levelled entire city blocks, displacing more than one million of the 2.4 million population, the UN has said. Israel has imposed a total siege on Gaza, cutting off electricity, water and fuel.