Tens of thousands take to streets in France to protest Israel's blockade of Gaza

10:53, June 06, 2010      

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Tens of thousands of people, mainly pro-Palestine French, took to the streets on Saturday across the country to protest against Israel's recent raid on a humanitarian ship bound for the blocked Gaza Strip.

In Paris, police estimated that over 5,000 protesters joined the demonstration under the blazing sun, while organizers said the number was around 30,000 as many passers-by also joined to express their sympathy for Gaza.

In Marseilles, some 2,000 to 4,000 people were estimated to have participated in a march in the city center near the Israeli consulate. Witnesses told Xinhua that the participants included Algerians, Turks and Tunisians, many of whom held up Palestinian flags.

For the whole country, police said there were about 17,000 demonstrators, but the organizers, from French labor unions, humanitarian groups, left-wing parties and some Muslim communities, claimed the number could be as high as 70,000.

Other major French cities where demonstrations took place included Lyon, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Toulouse, and Bordeaux.

The protesters urged Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza and to halt settlement expansion, while some of them requested the International Criminal Court to launch investigation against Israel. All demonstrations went on peacefully.

On May 31, an Israeli commando attacked a flotilla carrying humanitarian materials to Gaza, leaving nine Turkish activists dead and triggering international condemnation.



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