Under Israel pressure, French mayor forced to remove pro-Palestine street sign
Under pressure from Tel Aviv, the mayor of a Paris suburb has removed the sign for a street newly renamed “Nakba Lane,” a term used by Palestinians to refer to their forcible eviction by Israel from their homeland in 1948.
Bezons Mayor Dominique Lesparre had unveiled the “Nakba Lane” plaque on Monday in remembrance of Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, which is marked by Palestinians annually on May 15.
In 1948, when Israel declared its existence, some 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes and scattered across refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and neighboring countries.
This year, Gaza saw its deadliest day since Israel’s 2014 war on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day, with Israeli forces killing dozens of Palestinians.
The street sign read, “In memory of the expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians and the destruction of 532 villages in 1948 by the war criminal David Ben-Gurion for the creation” of Israel, referring to Israel’s first prime minister.
Meanwhile, Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon described the renaming of the Bezons street as “a nauseating act.”
Israel’s Ambassador to France Aliza Bin-Noun also accused the Bezons mayor of inciting hatred.
The sign also sparked criticism from a number of pro-Israel groups in France.
Back in 2014, Bezons was ordered to remove a commemorative plaque for Majdi al-Rimawi, an imprisoned member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who killed Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.
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France prevents Gaza-bound flotilla from docking in Seine
As the “freedom flotilla” vessels made their way to Gaza with humanitarian aid, they encountered unexpected trouble: in spite of being thoroughly searched by French police, 2 of the boats were forbidden from docking. “[We] didn’t know that Israeli waters now begin in the Seine,” commented one passenger.
Police in France have prevented two boats from a Gaza Strip-bound flotilla from docking in Seine River, despite subjecting the vessels to extensive searches in advance.
The boats and two other vessels are part of the Freedom Flotilla, which is to set sail for Gaza in the hope of breaking Israel’s siege of the coastal enclave.
The river police confronted the vessels on Sunday as dozens of pro-Palestinian activists were celebrating the flotilla’s imminent departure and chanting “Stop the massacre of Palestinians.”
The honorary president of the France-Palestine Solidarity Association (AFPS) Taoufiq Tahani confirmed that the boats had undergone a thorough inspection.
“We were unfortunately surprised and didn’t know that Israeli waters now begin in the Seine (river) in Paris. That’s unimaginable,” he said sarcastically.
The flotilla’s vessels are to meet in the Mediterranean before attempting to approach Gaza.
Gaza, which hosts roughly two million Palestinians, is facing a humanitarian crisis, driven by Israel’s siege of the territory, and its incessant attacks and wholesale wars. The United Nations has said the enclave could become “uninhabitable” by 2020.
The enclave has suffered three Israeli wars, and is subject to almost daily airstrikes by the occupying regime.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked one such flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean, killing 10 activists.
The flotilla was attempting to break the siege and take aid to the Palestinians.
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