About five thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Paris on Saturday, defying a French government ban against protesting Israel’s military actions in Gaza.
Around 2,000 police officers surrounded the Place de la Republique in Paris, where the protest took place. Clashes began when protestors threw stones and other projectiles at shopfronts and police officers, who responded with tear gas.
The police made about 50 arrests, according to France 24.
French authorities say they started to ban protests two weeks ago after several Pro-Palestinian marches targeted Jewish shops and synagogues.
“Anti-Semitic violence exists: we must face it head on,” French Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, said in a television address.
Protest organizers deny that their actions are anti-Semitic.
“Our goal is not to attack the Jews, it is to condemn the policies of a government,” Tarek Ben Hiba, an organizer of Saturday’s protest, told Reuters.
In response to recent violence and tensions in France, Jewish residents are moving out of the country in increasing numbers. This year, over 2,000 have left, which is up from 580 who had left by this time last year, according to an NPR report.
In the past two weeks, French authorities say there have been 300 pro-Palestinian protests throughout France.