February 21, 2024

Mr. Macron also called President Isaac Herzog of Israel on Sunday to clarify remarks he made to the BBC on Friday in which he said there was “no justification” for bombing civilians who were not tied to Hamas and called on Israel to stop the killing in Gaza.

Mr. Macron said “he does not and did not intend to accuse Israel of intentionally harming innocent civilians in the campaign against the terrorist organization Hamas,” the Élysée Palace said in a statement. Mr. Macron told Mr. Herzog that “he unequivocally supports Israel’s right and duty to self-defense, and expressed his support for Israel’s war against Hamas,” the statement said.

The president of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, and the National Assembly leader, Yaël Braun-Pivet, said the march was not intended to be a political statement about the war, over which political parties in France have clashed in recent weeks.

Instead, Ms. Braun-Pivet, who herself has been the target of antisemitic threats and is under police protection, said the march was an appeal for French citizens to show one another and the world “what France is today.”

The fact so many people participated in a march organized only six days ago showed that the French were “capable of assembling rapidly, reuniting around our values, our history, and what I’m sure will be our future,” she said.

Several former presidents joined the march in Paris, including François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as five former French prime ministers. Cultural figures attending included the actresses Natalie Portman and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Kathleen Lemire, 70, joined a crowd of thousands in Paris, many waving French flags or handing our posters with photos of the hostages taken by Hamas. Ms. Lemire wore a yellow paper star pinned to her pink winter jacket, and a note that said “Never Forget, Never Forgive.” Her mother had hidden Jewish children during World War II, she said, and her father was an American marine who landed at Utah Beach during D-Day.

“My mother told me what she saw,” she said. “It was Oct. 7, but on a bigger scale. I feel this is just the beginning.”