France’s interior minister instituted a ban on all pro-Palestinian demonstrations in response to the over 100 local antisemitic incidents recorded since Hamas’ attacks on Israel on Saturday.
Gérald Darmanin said Thursday that given the context, such demonstrations “are likely to generate disturbances to public order.” He added that protest organizers could face arrest.
“Given the heightened anxiety among our Jewish community, especially with a worship-filled weekend on the horizon,” Darmanin told Radio France, “it’s imperative to act.”
Authorities around the world have reported hate speech heard at pro-Palestinian rallies, from Germany to Australia. In Sydney, some out of a group of 1,000 were heard chanting “gas the Jews” at a rally outside the city’s famed opera house on Monday night.
Darmanin told France Inter radio that antisemitic incidents have spiked online and offline, the latter manifesting as “mainly tags and swastikas … but also insults … and people arrested with a knife at the entrance of a school or synagogue … and a drone flying over a Jewish place of worship.”
“The Palestinian cause is an absolutely respectable one, France has always considered that we need two states, an Israeli one and a Palestinian one … but if it is a demonstration of support for Hamas … it’s no,” he said.
Several French cities had so far blocked individual planned rallies, but some protests were held despite the bans, such as ones held Wednesday night in Nantes, Nîmes and Bordeaux, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.
Another two at the Place de la République in Paris were held on Thursday evening despite bans set down by the Paris Administrative Court, which cited “proven risks of the export of this violence … on national soil.”
Several hundred people gathered, and some chanted “Israel assassin, Macron accomplice” and “Zionists, Zionists, you are terrorists” while carrying Palestinian flags, as reported by TV5 Monde.
France has increased security at Jewish institutions, including schools and synagogues, since Saturday’s attacks.
While a first specially chartered flight to bring French citizens home from Israel returned Thursday night, the French Foreign Ministry has disclosed that 12 French nationals are among the casualties of the conflict. President Emmanuel Macron, in a meeting at the Elysée Palace, said that four of the 17 French citizens currently unaccounted for in Israel and Gaza are children.