France calls for release of Hamas MPs

"The Israelis must be very vigilant about the consequences of their actions."

turkey protest 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
turkey protest 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
France called on Israel on Friday to free arrested Hamas ministers and said both sides must move to reduce escalating tensions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said France fears that the situation will "feed an escalation and strengthen the most extreme elements, which is doubtless not Israel's objective." France does not want the situation to lead to "the weakening and, even less so, the disappearance of the Palestinian Authority," Mattei said. "The Israelis must be very vigilant about the consequences of their actions," the spokesman said during a regular press briefing, adding that Israeli restraint in the situation "is desirable." "A de-escalation must be started," Mattei said. Referring to the eight Palestinian ministers and 56 other Hamas officials captured by Israel, he added, "We await the liberation of these political officials." Freeing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would also clearly favor a de-escalation, he said. Also Friday, thousands of angry Turks burned US and Israeli flags and chanted pro-Hamas slogans in a protest against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of women, many wearing black chadors or Islamic-style head scarves, carried Palestinian flags and yelled, "Murderer Israel, get out of Palestine!" A man with a loud speaker warned the Jewish state that it was turning Turkey's 70 million Muslims against it. "Inshallah (God willing), all of Turkey will show in coming days that it is behind Palestine!" he said. "Inshallah!" the crowd yelled back. As protesters streamed out of the Beyazid Mosque after prayers and began to fill the square, police said they estimated 5,000 people had shown up. Later, they downgraded that estimate to 2,000.