Thousands demonstrate in Paris for captured Israeli soldier

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Several thousand people demonstrated on Tuesday in Paris for the release of an Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip for nearly four years and to support Israel.

Several French Jewish organisations including France's chief rabbi Gilles Bernheim called the rally of support for Gilad Shalit, who is also a French citizen, at Paris' Trocadero square near the River Seine.

The protestors bore banners reading "Freedom for Gilad Shalit", Hamas terrorists, Iran accomplices" and "Defending Israel is defending democracy".

Gilad Shalit, now 23, was captured on June 25, 2006 by Hamas and two smaller armed groups in a deadly cross-border raid, and is believed to be held in a secret location somewhere in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel has baulked at Hamas demands for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including several political leaders and top militants responsible for scores of deadly attacks, in exchange for Shalit.

Other demonstrations were due elsewhere in France on Tuesday evening. In Nice some 340 people protested, according to police.

© 2010 AFP

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