Some 20,000 people rallied in support of Israel in central Paris with the Eiffel Tower lit in the flag of Israel.
The crowd was mainly Jewish, but a number of Christians and Muslims also took part, saying they were horrified by the shooting, murders and abduction of civilians by Hamas.
“What happened in the south of Israel is pure terror, attacking in such a barbaric way these young people, these civilians. I’m stunned. It’s inhuman. No one should try to justify this,” said Olivier Delacroix, a television and radio journalist.
“I am not here to report but to express solidarity. I would have been here too had this attack targeted Muslims.”
“I came with my Christian and Muslim colleagues. They too are horrified by these attacks,” said Joëlle.
“The Hamas terrorists are the cousins of those who attacked the Bataclan in 2015 [when 90 people were killed by Islamist terrorists]. And there were people who cheered the attacks in Israel right here in France’s suburbs,” said 55-year-old Catholic woman Jennie. “I believe we must stand up like the French should have stood up in 1941 and 1942. Maybe things would have been different then and now.”
Jamal, a Muslim, said: “My family is from Morocco. I support Israel because my parents always told me they had great Jewish friends in Morocco so I know Jews are good people. They don’t really want to hurt the Palestinians. Meanwhile, I’m shocked that Palestinians don’t condemn at all this massacre.”
The crowds walked down the narrow streets singing “Am Israel Chai” and shouting “Free the hostages”, “Israel will live, Israel will prevail.”
There had previously been fears about security and a low turnout but they proved to be unfounded.
People stand at the Trocadero in front of the Eiffel Tower, illuminated in the colours of the national flag of Israel, during a rally called for by the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) in solidarity with Israel after recent Hamas attacks, in Paris on October 9, 2023 (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)
Many participants said they felt strengthened by the massive show of support for Israel.
Groups of friends and families arrived together. “We were so overwhelmed by what happened in Israel that we felt we had to come here,” said Alain, who marched with his wife and daughter. “I work in a suburb of Paris, and whenever there is a flare-up in the Middle East, there are incidents, people protest against Israel and against Jews.”
“I came with my parents because I was traumatised by the 2014 anti-Israel protest, in which I got trapped by accident,” said Alain’s daughter, 21-year-old Michaela. “None of my friends care about what has happened in Israel since Saturday. I felt all alone.”
Jeanne, aged 16, said this was the first march she had ever attended and that it had made her feel better.
"Many of my friends are Muslim and they have said many things against Israel. I felt alone but when I came here, with my parents, cousins and grandmother, and saw all of these people, whether Jewish or not, it moved me. I felt better. I am not alone.”
Since last Saturday, when the invasion began, 20 antisemitic incidents have been reported. Groups of men paraded in Paris with Palestinian flags, some shouting “Death to Jews.” Rabbis have been threatened on social media.
Police deployments were reinforced around synagogues and schools. Interior minister Gérald Darmanin has met Jewish community leaders.
“Authorities have banned some far-right groups, but they have not had the same approach with far-left and even associations that are pro-Hamas,” said political scientist and expert on extremist groups Jean-Yves Camus. “I believe events in Israel will clearly have repercussions here.”