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Germany, France, Italy condemn anti-Semitism in anti-Israel protests

by Reuters

July 22, 2014 | 9:41 am

<em>Riots in Paris after pro-Palestinian rally, image via Reuters</em>

Riots in Paris after pro-Palestinian rally, image via Reuters

The foreign ministers of GermanyFrance and Italy on Tuesday condemned anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia that have marred rallies against Israel's role in its conflict with Hamas in which about 600 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died.

After 10 days of bombardment, Israel on Thursday also launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip to halt rocket fire out of the territory. So far 29 Israelis, 27 of them soldiers, have died in the fighting.

On Sunday, French media showed the burnt-out front of a kosher grocery shop in the Parisian suburb of Sarcelles, which is home to a large Jewish community, and clashes between pro-Palestinian marchers and riot police outside two synagogues.

"Anti-Semitic incitement and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish faith and synagogues have no place in our societies," the three foreign ministers said in a joint statement issued in Brussels.

France's Laurent Fabius, Italy's Federica Mogherini and Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "Nothing, including the dramatic military confrontation in Gaza, justifies such actions here in Europe."

The ministers' statement on Tuesday came as Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting the fighting.

French authorities had refused to allow several pro-Palestinian protests scheduled for the weekend due to fears of violence, but gave the green light for a rally planned in Paris on Wednesday.

France has both the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe and flare-ups of violence in the Middle East often add to tensions between the two communities.

In Germany, police in Berlin said it had detained 13 people after demonstrators pelted police with stones after a pro-Palestinian protest on Monday. Police also banned an anti-Semitic slogan used by protesters, according to media reports.

"We will do everything together and in our countries so that all citizens can continue to live in peace and safety, unoffended by anti-Semitic hostility," the ministers said.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) welcomed the statement from the three ministers.

"The situation has reached unexpected dimensions. The wave of anti-Semitism in the course of pro-Palestinian demonstrations is getting worse from day to day," said Deidre Berger, director of the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute for German-Jewish relations.

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