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Tensions rise as Palestinians march to ignore Paris ban

Paris (AP) – Pro-Palestinian rallies in the Gaza Strip were held in dozens of French cities on Saturday, but the focus was on Paris, where special police forces were trained as organizers said they would ignore a ban on protests.

Paris Police Chief Didier Lallem has ordered shops closed around the starting point of a march in a working-class district north of Paris after an administrative court upheld the ban. Authorities opposed the protest with all available police forces, special services and the army. In July 2014, protesters stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.

The organizers said they intended to “condemn the recent Israeli aggression”, noting the Palestinians fleeing after Israel declared independence in 1948.

“Stop the attachment. “Palestine will lose,” read a poster in front of a small crowd standing with police blocking the neighborhood. Police said water cannons would be used against those who ignored the Paris ban.

Protests were allowed in many other cities, including Lille in the north and Marseille on the Mediterranean coast.

French authorities have stepped up their crackdown on deadly Israeli-Palestinian Hamas rocket attacks on Gaza, fearing the conflict could escalate into France in the form of violent protests.

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