Hundreds protest outside Paris news studio as interview with Netanyahu airs

PM points to French strike in Mali that accidentally killed civilians: ‘That was a tragedy, but I won’t call Macron a war criminal’

Anti-Israel protesters demonstrate outside TF1's studio in Paris on May 30, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
Anti-Israel protesters demonstrate outside TF1's studio in Paris on May 30, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

Hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators rallied late Thursday outside a top French television station to protest the broadcast of an interview with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the Gaza war.

Wearing black and white keffiyeh scarves and waving Palestinian flags, protesters gathered outside the offices of private broadcaster TF1 in the western Paris suburbs.

Kept away from the building by a heavy police presence, the protesters chanted: “Gaza, Paris is with you,” “Immediate ceasefire!” and “Israel, murderer.”

Members of parliament from French far-left party France Unbowed had called for the demonstration when they heard the interview was planned.

In the interview broadcast on TF1’s news channel LCI, Netanyahu defended his country’s war against Hamas amid increasing criticism over the high Palestinian death toll.

In an effort to contextualize the IDF’s conduct, Netanyahu recalled how French forces targeting jihadist fighters in Mali accidentally bombed a wedding in the West African country, killing 19 civilians in 2021.

“It’s a tragedy, and It’s something that happens in war, but I won’t call [French President Emmanuel] Macron a war criminal. I won’t say the French [killed civilians] on purpose, and neither do we,” Netanyahu said.

In the interview, Netanyahu told LCI “The number of civilian losses compared to losses of (Palestinian) combatants is the lowest rate we have seen in an urban war.”

He rejected claims that Israel was targeting civilians or deliberately trying to cause a famine as “antisemitic slander.”

He went further, saying that the fog of war has led Israel to accidentally kill its own hostages, referencing the IDF troops who mistook Yotam Haim, Alon Alon Shamriz and Samar Talalka for Palestinian gunmen and shot dead the escaped abductees in December.

Turning to the decision by the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor Karim Khan to pursue arrest warrants against him and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Netanyahu said Khan is “fueled by antisemitism,” likening The Hague tribunal to the “so-called serious courts” that prosecuted Alfred Dreyfus who was wrongly convicted of espionage in the late 19th century in what became one of French Jewry’s most traumatic antisemitic episodes.

The interview also sparked an unexpected diplomatic spat after Netanyahu at one point held up a map of the Middle East that drew Western Sahara as an independent territory separate from Morocco, even though Jerusalem recognized Rabat’s sovereignty over the disputed region last year.

A picture of Netanyahu with the map was screen-shot and Moroccan social media users fumed, while accounts from rival Algeria mocked the development.

The uproar led a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry to issue a statement clarifying that the map had been used by mistake, asserting that Israel still recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

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