France steps up security as protesters try to storm synagogues over bombardment of Gaza

People take part on July 14, 2014 in Nice, southeastern France, in a demonstration against Israel and in support of residents in the Gaza Strip, where a seven-day conflict has left 175 Palestinians dead. -- PHOTO: AFP
People take part on July 14, 2014 in Nice, southeastern France, in a demonstration against Israel and in support of residents in the Gaza Strip, where a seven-day conflict has left 175 Palestinians dead. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - France stepped up security on Monday after protesters demonstrating against Israel's bombardment of Gaza tried to storm two Paris synagogues.

President Francois Hollande warned that he did not want to see "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imported into France" after two Jewish men were hurt in clashes that erupted on Sunday.

Several thousand demonstrators joined in the Paris protest on Sunday, with violence breaking out at the end of the march on Bastille Square as people threw projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas.

A small group tried to break into two synagogues in central Paris, a police source told AFP.

The Jewish men were not badly hurt. Six policemen were also injured.

In his traditional Bastille Day television interview, Mr Hollande said he did not want the "consequences" of the conflict playing out in France, and would not tolerate such attacks. "The conflict between Israel and Palestine cannot be used as an excuse for anti-Semitism."

Mr Joel Mergei, president of the Central Israeli Consistory - the top Jewish religious authority in France, said the violence represented a "new low" after an earlier petrol bomb attack on a synagogue in the suburb of St Denis.

France has the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe, and there has been a marked upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years.

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