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Reuters: Cases of anti-Semitism have increased sharply in France

12-10-2023 |

President Emmanuel Macron will meet political party leaders on Thursday and address the nation on TV to call for unity and try to prevent any spillover of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in France, where there has been a rise in antisemitic acts.

France has Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish populations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has in the past contributed to tensions between the two.

Antisemitic acts have risen in France since Hamas attacked Israeli towns on Saturday, killing more than 1,300 people, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Israel has responded by launching the most powerful bombing campaign on Gaza, ruled by Hamas, in the 75-year history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, killing more than 1,200 and destroying whole neighbourhoods.

Darmanin said France had seen a spike in online hatred but also more direct threats.

"Since Saturday and the terrorist massacres in Israel, there has been over a hundred antisemitic acts, mainly tags and swastikas," Darmanin told France Inter radio, "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."

Twenty-four people have been arrested. The government has assigned 10,000 police to protect some 500 sites.

Darmanin said intelligence services saw no specific terrorist threats against France's Jewish community, but that threats could come from individuals rather than organised groups.

With two pro-Palestinian protests scheduled on Thursday banned but expected to go ahead, Darmanin said protests would be given the green light - or not - on a case-by-case basis.

"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.

Eleven French citizens are confirmed dead in Israel, and over a dozen are missing.

Esther, the grandmother of 12-year-old Eitan, who is among the missing, urged Macron to help.

"I am begging you as a grandmother," she said on BFM TV. "He is a French citizen, I'm sure you want to help me ensure he comes back."

More Jews have left France for Israel in recent years than at any other time since the Jewish state was created in 1948, with many citing rising antisemitism as a factor.

Source: Reuters