Sunday in France witnessed protests by thousands of Palestinian supporters with small groups attacking the police and two synagogues in Paris. The marchers were protesting Israeli Operation Protective Edge against the Hamas blitz of hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli populated areas including major cities like Ashkelon, Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have launched more than 715 rockets, while Israel’s Iron Dome system has intercepted and destroyed 160 rockets. The Palestinian death toll has reached 168 and over 1,000 injuries. Two elderly Israelis died of heart failure responding to Code Red alarms, while several IDF troops were slightly injured with shrapnel from fallen rockets and a raid early Sunday morning against a launching site in northern Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu on FoxNews Sunday said: “We face a very brutal enemy. We use our missiles to protect our people, they use their people to protect missiles”.
Here are excerpts from the AFP report on the large protests and synagogue attack in Paris and Lile, “Clashes in Paris as thousands march against Israel offensive”:
Clashes erupted in Paris on Sunday as thousands of people protested against Israel and in support of residents in the Gaza Strip, where a six-day conflict has left 168 Palestinians dead.
Several thousand demonstrators walked calmly through the streets of Paris behind a large banner that read “Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People”.
But clashes erupted at the end of the march on Bastille Square, with people throwing projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas.
The unrest continued early Sunday evening as police announced six arrests had been made.
A small group tired to break into two synagogues in central Paris, a police source told AFP.
Riot police dispersed the group, with two members of the Jewish community and six officers slightly injured in the ensuing scuffle, the source said.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the attempted synagogue stormings “in the strongest possible terms”.
“Such acts targeting places of worship are unacceptable,” he said in a statement.
– ‘Profoundly shocked’ –
“I am profoundly shocked and revolted. This aggression towards the Jewish community has taken an absolutely unacceptable turn,” Joel Mergei, president of the Israelite Central Consistory of France, told AFP.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called for “calm in the face of tensions” in the Middle East.
In the northern city of Lille, meanwhile, between 2,300 and 6,000 people protested peacefully, according to differing figures provided by the police and organizers.
“I came to say no to this massacre,” Amid Hamadouch, 30, told AFP at the Paris protest while it was still peaceful, with a sticker reading “Boycott Israel, Racist State” on his jacket.
“They are bombing innocent people. There are missiles being launched by Hamas, but the Israeli response is disproportionate. They are attacking the civilian population and not Hamas officials.”
The crowd, very young, shouted slogans such as: “We Are All Palestinians!” and “Only One Solution, End the Occupation!”.
Earlier today, former Israeli Ambassador Michel Oren on CNN promoting a proposal for a cease fire modeling on the Chemical Weapons destruction in Syria that would entail having international force to secure and destroy the current rocket and missile inventories of both Hamas and the PIJ. That proposal was floated yesterday in Israel by a number of experts including former Israeli Chief of Staff, Gen. (ret.) Shaul Mofaz and others. Amb. Oren in an Israel Seen, op-ed, “A Smart Way out of the Gaza Confrontation, ” said:
The next stage would apply the formula with which the United States and Russia successfully removed chemical weapons from Syria. American inspectors can locate Hamas’ rocket stockpiles and ship them abroad for destruction.
Cessation of the Gaza rocket war against Israel would be only the first step in an orchestrated program to permanently end the threats from Gaza to the Jewish nation. Ultimately those rockets have to be destroyed and the Hamas PIJ leaders brought to justice.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured photo is of demonstrators protesting in Paris to denounce the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, July 11, 2014. Photo by AFP.