Protestors hold Palestinian flags during a demonstration in Paris

Protestors hold Palestinian flags during a demonstration in Paris on May 27, 2024 to protest an Israeli strike on a camp in Rafah for internally displaced Palestinians.

(Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images)

Tens of Thousands in Paris Protest Rafah Massacre as EU Weighs Israel Sanctions

"When the history of this is written, it will document how some stood against these war crimes," said one critic. "And how others supported, protected, and abetted them."

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Paris late Monday to condemn Israel's bombing of a tent encampment in Rafah overnight Sunday that killed at least 45 people and wounded hundreds of others in what has been alternately described as a "mass atrocity," "horrific massacre," and "war crime."

Demanding French leaders and other European nations decisively end their military and political support for the Israeli assault on Gaza, the demonstrators gathered near the Israeli embassy, chanting slogans that included: "Free Gaza!"; "Gaza, Paris is with you!"; and "We are all Gaza children!"

Gaza health officials reported Monday that a majority of those killed in the encampment in Rafah's Tal al-Sultan were women and children.

Footage that emerged of the attack showed charred corpses and, in one clip, what appeared to be a man carrying the body of a small child who had been beheaded.

The Paris demonstration was organized by the Association France-Palestine Solidarity group, with protesters calling on the French government to demand accountability for the Rafah assault.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday he was "outraged" by the attack and called for "full respect for international law and an immediate cease-fire," but organizer François Rippe toldThe Times of Israel that greater action is needed from the French government.

"They start a fire in a camp for displaced, they burn people and we don't even summon the Israeli ambassador to ask for an account. It is just not acceptable," said Rippe.

Paris has supplied Israel with intelligence and military aid since it began its assault on Gaza in October, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians—the majority of whom have been civilian men, women, and children. The carnage of innocent people has continued despite repeated Israeli claims that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) only targets Hamas fighters and is taking all necessary steps to protect civilians.

Anadolu Agencyreported Tuesday that Paris police fired tear gas shells at protesters who attempted to proceed toward the Israeli embassy.

"We participate in this march, which is scheduled to reach the Israeli embassy to confirm and loudly say that we are all against what happened in Rafah," Carlos Martens Bilongo, a member of the French National Assembly, told Anadolu. "Burning the tents of the displaced Palestinians is unacceptable, and France must move more politically to cease-fire in Gaza."

As protesters marched in Paris as well as in other European cities including Madrid and Barcelona, Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin told reporters after attending a European Union Foreign Affairs Council meeting that there "was a very clear consensus about the need to uphold the international humanitarian legal institutions" and that officials had for the first time engaged in "significant" discussions about possible sanctions on Israel.

Martin noted that the foreign ministers had discussed sanctions if Israel does not comply with the International Court of Justice's latest ruling, in which the court ordered Israel to halt its military operation in Rafah.

"There was a strong discussion on the provisional orders of the International Court of Justice," Martin told reporters, adding that offiicals had "very clear views that Israel should adhere to those provisional orders to open the border crossing with Rafah and cease its military operations in Rafah."

"International humanitarian law, adherence to human rights, is the raison d’etre of the European Union and events now are really putting that issue into sharp focus, particularly given the attack last night when so many innocent people were killed," said Martin.

In the U.S., the Biden administration—the largest international funder of the IDF—said Monday that it was "assessing" whether Israel had crossed a "red line" by killing 45 displaced people. Biden has been the target of national and international outrage for continuing to support Israel despite mounting proof that the IDF is not protecting civilians and is operating with genocidal intent.

"When the history of this is written, it will document how some stood against these war crimes," said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, as French protesters stood against the Rafah attack. "And how others supported, protected and abetted them. I am talking about you, Joe Biden."

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