Echoing fears expressed by President Hollande just a week ago, it appears that some of the violence from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been “imported” to France
Sarcelles in the Val d’Oise department is a suburban town north of Paris with a significant Jewish community and immigrant community, where tensions along North African/Jewish lines have been building.
Last night, the area erupted in serious violence. On Sunday afternoon, a gathering that had been banned by the local authorities brought hundreds of pro-Palestinian sympathisers together on the streets near the Garges-Sarcelles train station.
At about 16:00, it’s reported that violence broke out between protesters and police in front of the synagogue on Avenue Paul-Valéry. At the same time, access to the synagogue of Garges was blocked. A fire was started but was quickly put out and a gang of youths armed with iron bars and sticks affronted police.
“The atmosphere is very tense. We’re awaiting reinforcements from the Gendarmerie,” said one police officer early afternoon yesterday as helicopters flew over the zone.
After that, there was a series of apparently orchestrated attacks: a shop behind the commissariat was set on fire, three people were arrested trying to break into a tobacconists, rioters attacked a bank in Sarcelles and more protesters tried to set fire to Garages station and ripped up tram rails. Several shops were pillaged and police fired rubber bullets. Journalists were taken aside and some were attacked while several police were injured, with four of them being hospitalised.
In Garges, the police were also confronted by very young female protesters – some of them wearing veils. “All the Palestinians are in heaven today,” one of them shouted.
“We’re looking at veritable urban guerilla scenes here,” says local regional secretary of the Alliance union Thierry Mazé, who added that he hoped that those arrested (around 20 of them) would be “severely punished”.
The flare-up of violence followed a night of similar scenes in the area of Barbès in northern Paris on Saturday night, where 1,500 police confronted pro-Palestinian protesters that quickly swelled up to 3,000 by late afternoon. Again, Jewish premises were the principal targets and a number of Jewish-owned shops and businesses were ransacked and/or burned.